Epub No Place of Grace Antimodernism and the Transformation of ☆ cheapnikeshoes.co

T J Jackson Lears draws on a wealth of primary sources — sermons diaries letters — as well as novels poems and essays to explore the origins of turn of the century American antimodernism He examines the retreat to the exotic the pursuit of intense physical or spiritual experiences and the search for cultural self sufficiency through the Arts and Crafts movement Lears argues that their antimodern impulse pervasive than historians have supposed was not simple escapism but reveals some enduring and recurring tensions in American cultureIt's an understatement to call No Place of Grace a brilliant book It's the first clear sign I've seen that my generation after marching through the '60s and jogging through the '70s might be pausing to examine what we've learned and to teach it—Walter Kendrick Village VoiceOne can justly make the claim that No Place of Grace restores and reinterprets a crucial part of American history Lears's method is impeccable—Ann Douglas The Nation


10 thoughts on “No Place of Grace Antimodernism and the Transformation of American Culture 1880 1920

  1. says:

    This is a book about an irony of modern life Thanks to its very openness modernity defined by relentless official rationality on the one hand a universal belief in the value of free thought on the other and boundless materialism between them seems to be inescapable and even efforts to escape modernity actually reinforce it It may not be obvious to all readers however that this is Jackson Lears's message thanks in large part to the fact that the author himself is caught in the bind he describes Jackson Lears strongly feels the antimodern impulse himself In our time he writes the most profound radicalism is often the most profound conservatism xviii According to him the dominant American culture since the late nineteenth century has been a therapeutic culture that liberates the individual only to accommodate him to industrial bureaucracy insatiate consumption and spiritual aimlessness It is therefore not the impulse of individual liberation Lears thinks but the impulse to conserve and govern that offers escape from this comfortable prison Yet Lears also shows that the antimodern impulse felt most strongly at the turn of the century by old Protestant families in the East failed to liberate Antimodernism became for most affluent and educated Americans at the turn of the century yet another form of accommodation to the modern order It merely allowed old elite families to revitalize their values for a new capitalist century which they would continue to dominate Seemingly Jackson Lears has beautifully written himself into a cornerBeyond this philosophical aim however Lears has two broad historiographic aims First he aims to show that antimodernism was not the death rattle of old stock Northern elites xvi but rather the elites' way of marking their transition to the secular industrial age The antimodern impulse gave old money a dominant cultural role in the new economy establishing the first families of Boston and New York as natural artistic guardians of a sordid commercial society Second he aims to show that the hedonistic consumer culture of the twentieth century was not invented after the First World War but instead originated in the nineteenth century as Protestantism declined and secular cultural values replaced it as the hegemonic ideology of the middle class United States In pursuing these aims Lears enjoys considerable success if we accept his assumption that the values of the articulate middle class were hegemonic ie that they indirectly defined the values even of Americans who did not strictly share in their cultural basis Because of other studies in a variety of fields I think they generally were especially by the end of Lears's periodIn the late nineteenth century Lears writes middle class Americans shared in a transatlantic ideology that located freedom and beauty in progress technology rationalization of all areas of life lowered tolerance for discomfort and an ideology of self control This was the age of Frederick Winslow Taylor who applied science to the factory line to achieve maximum discipline and productivity and his psychic counterpart John Harvey Kellogg who wrote advice books for growing boys enjoining them to master every fleeting sexual thought The focal point of this Victorian morality was the domestic ideal which promoted the middle class home and wife as a haven within and essential disciplinary support to the competitive world of working men The central philosophy was that of Herbert Spencer who promoted not cutthroat social Darwinism as has often been claimed but rather a vision of benign evolutionary progress that would end cruel competition a positivist vision that liberal Protestant religious leaders enthusiastically embraced These ministers Lears writes sought to exorcise the last vestiges of shadow and magic from their creeds to create a clean well lighted place where religion and rationalist optimism could coexist in harmony In the process though they undermined their faith as an independent source of moral authority and it became a handmaiden of the positivist world view 23But by the 1880s upper and middle class Americans were entertaining doubts about the rationalist vision Some of them noticed that the rationalization of urban culture and the decline of religion into sentimental religiosity threatened a coherent sense of self; many now longed for the sort of intense spiritual experience that seemed to be missing in their comfortable lives Editorialists inveighed against a lack of heroism or robust sense of sin in American society Neurasthenia depression seemed to be epidemic among young men in American cities George Miller Beard named the malady in American Nervousness in 1880 and it rapidly gained currency Meanwhile labor unrest was unsettling bourgeois complacency about industry and cultural assimilation From this sense of doubt about the advance of civilization the antimodern impulse in America was bornOne manifestation of antimodernism came in the form of the Arts and Crafts movement The idealists of this movement including early figure Charles Eliot Norton Horace Traubel Edward Pearson Pressey Elbert Hubbard Gustav Stickley and Oscar Lovell Triggs protested modern industry's production values or lack thereof and the alienation of the worker from his product Yet they had nothing Lears writes to offer the actual working classes Their artisanism was exclusively a bourgeois leisure pursuit; it made well educated hobbyists the masters of a craft industry that did not existMeanwhile many bourgeois antimodernists cultivated a darker ideal Romantic militarists such as Charles Majors author of the Tudor novel When Knighthood Was in Flower; the Rough Rider and ersatz western rancher Theodore Roosevelt; youth organizations like the Princely Knights of Character Castle; poets Richard Hovey and Louise Imogen Guiney; Frank Norris who wrote about the American West and the Middle Ages alike; and Brooks Adams a pessimistic imperialist sought in medieval violence and pain a refuge from industrial decadence lassitude and femininity But their martial ideal Lears points out promoted American imperialism in the Caribbean and Latin America not a force of feudalism but a powerful engine of modern machinery and tradeAnother medieval fantasy arrived in the form of vitalism an impulse to celebrate medieval or otherwise exotic spirituality without embracing its doctrinal content Many vitalists looked to the Middle Ages as the childhood of the race in the terms of psychologist G Stanley Hall an ambivalent image of both sincerity and simplemindedness They participated in artistic enthusiasms such as a cult of Dante devotees included Lowell Longfellow and Charles Eliot Norton that celebrated the Italian poet's religious sincerity but did not enter into its substance Popular literature likewise included wildly popular work on medieval themes by Howard Pyle and Mark Twain; the former managed to assimilate his premodern fantasies of Sherwood Forest to an optimistic view of the modern West but Twain's Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court contrasted the premodern with the modern and revealed its author to be unable to choose between them without bitter regret Many late Victorians also mined medieval magic and myth for archetypes that might inform modern life; examples include Sir James Frazer The Golden Bough 1890 the folklorist John Fiske William Butler Yeats and Richard Wagner and the orientalists Lafcadio Hearn and Sir Edwin Arnold Most of these antimodern vitalists Lears charges were sentimentalists who elevanted weightless aesthetic experience over tangible outcomes or analytic systems They tried to satisfy religious longings with disconnected irrational sensations; thus Lears believes they promoted a secular therapeutic ethic of self expression that did nothing to challenge the values of industrialism At their best however some of them did at least celebrate feelings of dread and awe emotions altogether alien to the enlightened optimism of the emerging twentieth century 143Some antimodernists though did tack toward traditional and systematic expressions of religion The end of the nineteenth century was a period of great fascination with Catholicism among young members of old families who sought in high tradition the meaning they could not find in sentimental liberal Protestantism or atheism It was in other words the age of Anglo Protestantism among not only Episcopalians but also members of other churches Some like the great church architect Ralph Adams Cram had religious epiphanies in European cathedrals and returned to the United States to spread the beauty of Catholic tradition among rootless mechanical minded Americans Cram however was entangled in bourgeois institutions; he built new cathedrals in which the Episcopalian titans of business could flaunt their civic power and taste Cram protested centrifugal liberalism authentically enough but his conservatism was a conservatism of the capitalists 209 Lears contrasts his approach with that of Vida Dutton Scudder a self identified Christian socialist who like Cram found in Catholic sacramentalism a refuge from doubt and anomie but who became a champion the poor On the whole Lears thinks the church movement toward art and ritual was the most two sided of all the antimodern movements; it pointed to a uniuely viable alternative to therapeutic consumer culture yet it also encouraged a consumer ethic within churches themselves as they built impressive structures and filled them with costly furnishingsLears ends his book with biographical studies of seven elite men who came of age or came to prominence during this period Six of them William Sturgis Bigelow George Cabot Lodge Percival Lowell Charles Eliot Norton G Stanley Hall and Van Wyck Brooks are presented as specimens of ambivalent affluence seeking meaning in their comfortable lives The ambivalent young educated man is this author's leitmotif Lears believes that all of them failed to resolve their misgivings about the modern world Their attempts to find refuge in premodernist fads ended in failure inasmuch as these men ended up where they had started as cultural leaders of modern America who saw no escape from its obligations The seventh on the other hand is closer to Lears's heart Henry Adams the cranky patrician responsible for still legendary indictments of modern pretensions It seems that Henry Adams is for Lears the only respectable sort of dissident from modernity an incorruptible outsider And a pessimist


  2. says:

    This book profoundly altered the way I think about America at the turn of the 20th century and also how I go about writing history myself Weaving insights from psychoanalysis sociology literary theory and cultural history Lears creates a topical history that resists telling history with a simple narrative arc even as it utilizes the narratives of the lives of exemplary figures Half history half theory No Place of Grace is a deeply moral work that makes a case for spirituality and the uest for meaning


  3. says:

    Brilliant study of antimodern impulses during the growth of industry and the consumer economy Jacskon Lears shows how Americans entertained serious critiues of modernity — for instance returning to an artisanal economy of Arts and Crafts reviving medieval imagery and heroic sagas for the imperial era using militarism to reinvigorate white masculinity or preferring Catholicism or mysticism to secularism Lear's great insight is that antimodernism could wind up reinforcing the economic and cultural power of the bourgeoisie Theodore Roosevelt detested physical weakness and thought a bit of war was good for every white patrician man but he married these antimodern attitudes to a strong defense of capitalism He went to war in Latin America to create foreign markets as clear an example of toxic acuisitive individualism as any Writer Brooks Adams viewed medieval society as according men freedom than Northeastern filiopiety or capitalism Adams was also a virulent anti Semite who claimed Jews were using the economy to hurt the people Even the Arts and Crafts reformers building utopian and artists' communes wound up reinforcing capitalism since by withdrawing from mainstream society they abdicated control of it Lears believes that his critiue of libertarian utopianism and therapeutics in the Progressive Era also applies to twentieth century socialists expatriates and Beatniks and I'd add New Agers Focusing on the self is not the way to transform society The book's theoretical language is dense Lears assumes the reader knows about Freud Gramsci and Marx As in Lears's Something for Nothing Lears tends toward descriptive reductionism He lumps too many disparate trends under the category of antimodern Still this book is essential for understanding opposition to consumer capitalism and the ways that Northeastern elites appropriated that opposition to strengthen the capitalist system


  4. says:

    Lears writes with verve and insight about the coming of modern times He shows us what this meant to the culture – in the arts in consciousness religion and how Americans defined themselves It’s an impressive book that makes sense of an era crowded with big personalities and technological change


  5. says:

    Lears explains the cultural and intellectual transformation of the period 1880 1920 as a flight from modernity and its attendant weightlessness and rationalization toward antimodern sentiment While this sort of antimodernism has routinely especially in the case of Henry Adams been seen as the last gasp of a dying world Lears writes against this interpretation considering turn of the century anti modernism as something new Methodologically Lears draws on a combination of Gramsci and Freud suggesting that while the American ruling class did create a dominant culture they did so in part through unconscious or subconscious desires a deep ambivalence about autonomy vs dependency This ambivalence led the point men of the United States toward eastern mysticism a fetishization of innocence in the form of children and of the Middle Ages and a desire for lived experience over the effete intellectual life of late 19th century positivism often through militarism Lears desires in part to rescue antimodernism 'the best of Conservatism' from contemporary right wing defenders of corporate capitalism While he takes pains at least to insist that he is not overgeneralizing by extrapolating from the experience of the hegemonic elite I am not totally convinced that his analysis extends as far as he wants it to


  6. says:

    Lears argues that at the turn of the 20th century antimodernist impulse was not merely cultural escapism but a critiue of the secularization and increasing bureaucracy of American life Antimodernists yearned for greater individualization and authenticity as well a renewed spirituality Turning toward an exotic and spiritualized medieval and orientalist aesthetic American antimodernists nurtured a therapeutic world view that was ambivalently compatible with the material progress and imperialism of modern American culture Turning toward an exotic and spiritualized medieval and orientalist aesthetic as well as return to the tradition of handcraft Antimodernist Americans linked morality and taste with art and ritual Yet it was a taste that promoted conspicuous consumption Large collections of original art were established during this period with wealthy Americans salvaging and preserving European art This is the second time I've read this book and I like it better this time than the first However I did not enjoy it as much as Lears' recent book Rebirth of a Nation which I read first and think was fully developed I still am somewhat troubled by Lears' use of the term Antimodern Modernist


  7. says:

    In No Place of Grace TJ Jackson Lears explores the origins and effects of the antimodernist movement in the United States around the turn of the 20th century He argues that due to the spiritual and psychological turmoil created by modernity many intellectuals began yearning for a authentic physical and emotional experience by embracing ���old ways��� He claims that this movement is intellectually and socially important than previously suspected because it not only encouraged escapist nostalgia and protests against liberalism it also created a subtle and long lasting transformation of the psychological foundation of America making way for a streamlined liberal culture of consumer capitalism Lears demonstrates the complexity of the Antimodernist movement as well as the important transformations that arose out of it He also points out that it is still evident in avant garde art and literature It is evident that he conducted extensive research on the individuals involved in this movement and used various personal writings to explore the inner sentiments of these people


  8. says:

    Upon a theoretical foundation that combines Gramsci’s cultural hegemony with Freud’s psychoanalytic focus Lears proposes a gradual and nuanced telling of the progression from the nineteenth century to the twentieth depicting the Victorian bourgeoisie’s antimodernim as constructive ambivalence which shaped both American culture and her landscape While the academic trend of the moment was to focus on the experiences of ordinary people Lears chronicles how the intellectual elite experienced “weightlessness” in private and public rooted in a “crisis of cultural authority” caused by a combination of urbanization post industrialization and increasingly secular views Beset by “cultural strain moral confusion and anomie” this privileged group sought real authentic sweeping experiences through preindustrial craftsmanship a pastoral and simple life martial violence exotic encounters and mysticism These actions were never fully nostalgic backward actions however as Lears argues antimodernism was “a complex blend of accommodation and protest” that transitioned the elite and common man alike into a new age of consumer capitalism


  9. says:

    Lears writes an intellectual and psychological history of a portion of the educated American elite around the turn of the last century There he finds deep spiritual turmoil and a strain of anti modernism reaching towards and appropriating medieval Asian and primitive cultures The writing is thick not difficult to read but not uick as Lears opens up ideas and individuals as they sought therapuetic self fulfillment in experience And so while the anti modernists sought to avoid the advances of modernism their therapuetic turn did not uestion the developing corporate society sufficiently and their uesting was easily assimilated into that society's individualism and consumerism


  10. says:

    Theoretically intriguing but ultimately a fabulist version of history Lears hearts Gramsci Freud Weber Nietzsche and all the other cool kids but his platform basically the Arts and Crafts Movement and neo medievalism circa 1900 is too thin to support his grand designs Just write philosophy man The Freudian reading of Henry Adams is worth a read for Henry Adams aficionados and you know who you are