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Is Paris Still the Capital of the Nineteenth Century? : Essays on Art and Modernity, 1850-1900
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â€˜Is Paris Still the Capital of the Nineteenth Century?â€™ The question that guides this volume stems from Walter Benjaminâ€™s studies of nineteenth-century Parisian culture as the apex of capitalist aesthetics. Thirteen scholars test Benjaminâ€™s ideas about the centrality of Paris, formulated in the 1930s, from a variety of methodological perspectives. Many investigate the underpinnings of the French capitalâ€™s reputation and mythic force, which was based largely upon the cityâ€™s capacity to put itself on display. Some of the authors reassess the famed centrality of Paris from the vantage point of our globalized twenty-first century by acknowledging its entanglements with South Africa, Turkey, Japan, and the United States. The volume equally studies a broader range of media than Benjamin did himself: from modernist painting and printmaking, photography, and illustration to urban planning. The essays conclude that Paris did in many ways function as the epicenter of modernityâ€™s international reach, especially in the years from 1850 to 1900, but did so only as a consequence of the idiosyncratic force of its mythic image. Above all, the essays affirm that the study of late nineteenth-century Paris still requires nimble and innovative approaches commensurate with its legend and global aura.