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Description: Landscape Imagery and Urban Culture in Early Nineteenth-Century Britain
~When I first conceived the plan of this book (or of one something like it) in the late 1970s, both the project of a social history of art and its connection with a radical politics seemed much clearer than they do today. Developments in the history and analysis of culture together with changes in the world order have made...
PublisherYale University Press
https://doi.org/10.37862/aaeportal.00073.004
Preface
When I first conceived the plan of this book (or of one something like it) in the late 1970s, both the project of a social history of art and its connection with a radical politics seemed much clearer than they do today. Developments in the history and analysis of culture together with changes in the world order have made the certainties of that moment seem far less certain in many instances. My files of abandoned and altered drafts of these chapters record my responses to the events of the 1980s, whatever else they may record. The reader must decide for her or himself whether or not I changed enough. However, I want to be absolutely clear on one point. There is no value-free history, and this book rests on the presupposition that one of the primary functions of history is as cultural critique. It is also only right to acknowledge that what I have written is the product of a collective enterprise of historical writing. The book partly represents a debate with other scholars committed to a radical art history, and with many more who are not. My debts to, and disagreements from, the work of some particular individuals are recorded in the endnotes and in a few cases in the main text. But there are others whose ideas I can no longer distinguish from my own, either because I have absorbed their work at some subliminal level, or because we have simply arrived at the same conclusions. My hope is that this book will contribute to the type of dialogue on the nature of bourgeois society which can inform a renewed socialist politics. At this moment in time, it seems more necessary than ever to say this.