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Textual Realism and Reenactment

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Part of the Reenactment History book series (REH)

Abstract

This chapter introduces an aesthetic strategy that bears a superficial resemblance to pastiche, but involves more than just mimicking the idiom and style of another writer or painter. I call this strategy ‘textual realism’. It is a self-conscious and critically engaged form of intertextuality, whereby a modern film, novel or work of history incorporates references to and/or quotations from visual and literary sources dating from the period in which it is set. In other words, this strategy redefines the notion of realism and changes its target. Rather than attempt to represent directly the lived reality of a past era, it re-enacts the characteristic ways in which a past era represented its experience to itself.1 The idea of textual realism thus provides a way to sidestep the fact that we cannot have direct, unmediated access to the past. It turns this alleged problem into an intellectual and aesthetic challenge.

Keywords

Comic Strip Consumer Society Closing Image Cultural Logic Animation Sequence 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Compare J. Forbes, (1997) Les Enfants du Paradis (London: The British Film Institute), pp. 20–1Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    F. Jameson (2000) ‘Postmodernism, or The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism’, in M. Hardt and K. Weeks (Eds) The Jameson Reader, Oxford: Blackwell, pp. 188–232Google Scholar
  3. M. A. Rose, (1991) ‘Post-Modern Pastiche’, British Journal of Aesthetics, 31, 26–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 3.
    F. Jameson, (1983)’ Postmodernism and Consumer Society’, in H. Foster (Ed) Postmodern Culture (London: Pluto Press), pp. 111–25Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    For a detailed description of the film, see M. Connelly (2003) The Charge of the Light Brigade (London and New York: I. B. Tauris).Google Scholar
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    R. Pare (1987) Roger Fenton (New York: Aperture Foundation).Google Scholar
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    C. Ripa (1976) Iconologia, ed. S. Oregl, facsimile of the 1611 Padua edition (New York and London: Garland Publishing], 1976)Google Scholar
  8. C. Vecellio (1590) De gli habiti antichi, et moderni di diuerse parti del mondo (Venice: Damian Zenaro).Google Scholar
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    J. Walker (2009) Pistols! Treason! Murder!: The Rise and Fall of a Master Spy (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press), p. 3.Google Scholar
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    M. Foucault (1991) Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, trans. A. Sheridan (Harmondsworth: Penguin).Google Scholar
  11. 22.
    G. Buganza (1991) ‘Il potere della parola. Le forza e la responsibilità della deposizione testimoniale nel processo penale veneziano (secoli XVI–XVII)’, in La parola all’accusato, eds J. C. Maire Vigueur and A. Paravicini Bagliani (Palermo: Sellerio), pp. 124–38Google Scholar
  12. J. Walker (2002) ‘Legal and Political Discourse in Seventeenth-Century Venice’, Comparative Studies in Society and History, 44(4), pp. 800–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 26.
    See, for example, the ‘Document Insert’ sections in J. Ellroy (1995) American Tabloid (London: Arrow)Google Scholar
  14. G. Corazzol (1997) Cineografo di banditi su sfondo di monti, Feltre 1634–1642 (Milan: Edizioni Unicopli).Google Scholar
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    V. Cox, The Renaissance Dialogue: Literary Dialogue in Its Social and Political Contexts, Castiglione to Galileo (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    J. L. Borges (1998) ‘Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote’, in Collected Fictions, trans. A. Hurley (London: Penguin), p. 91.Google Scholar
  17. 29.
    There is an unfortunate confusion about the term ‘historicist’ because Karl Popper used it to mean attempts to find pseudo-scientific historical laws — the sort of thing that doctrinaire Marxists used to do — while (even more confusingly) Jameson uses ‘historicism’ to mean ‘the random cannibalization of all the styles of the past’ in postmodern architecture (i.e. pastiche, according to Jameson’s definition — see ‘The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism’, p. 202). By contrast, I am using ‘historicism’ to mean interpreting the past on its own terms, using its own ideas and terms of analysis, and without imposing anachronistic judgements or terms of reference upon it. A classic statement of the principle can be found in Q. Skinner (1998) ‘Meaning and Understanding in the History of Ideas’, in J. Tully (ed.) Meaning and Context: Quentin Skinner and His Critics (Cambridge: Polity Press), p. 48Google Scholar

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© Jonathan Walker 2010

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