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Flashcards in Americas Gilded Age Deck (15):

Cultural perspective

Lewis Mumford: “America may be defined by its possessions, or by the things that it lacks,” and the captains of industry in the Gilded Age tried to overcome the lack with a “predatory notion of culture,” looking east to Acquire the cultural objects of Europe.


John singer Sargent

Painter and Friend to Henry James and fellow ex patriot. “Hall with four children” portrayed the inability to distinguish between animate and inanimate, and thus presented modernism with the concept of an indeterminate ontology.


“Hall with four children” 1

Painted by John singer sergeant. Daughters portrayed as detached as pinafores. Power of painting=the lack of relation (interaction or interconnection)-despite their depiction as a group-as though a set of inanimate objects


Hall with four children 2

-ontological democratization causing an equation of humans and things-humans as decorative objects.


Between “four children” and “portrait”

Painting-children can be dolled up, loved like material treasure, treasure like parental affection
Portrait-Rosier thinks of pansy “as he might have thought of a Dresden-China shepherdess


Mirror between James and Sargent

They share the expressive dialectic of person and thing, and a materialist affectivity reminiscent of how James viewed Americans Abroad
-“degredation of being into having”


William James

Psychologist describing the Consciousness of self as thus: “ it Is clear that between what a man calls me and what a man calls mine the line is very difficult to draw,” and “a man’s self is the sum total of all he can call his, Not only his body and a psychic powers put his clothes in his house his wife and his children his lands in horses and you’re in bank account.”


Traces of William James in Portrait

Madam Merle:”what do you call oneself? Where does it begin? Where does it end? It overflows into everything that belongs to us and then it flows back again. I have a great respect for things.”


Psychology of Henry James

The work of the mind is a great thing in excess of things, which can hardly be measured by any logic of possession or possessive individualism.


Theme in Henry James

The theme of the thing is not so obvious with in James text that it cannot effectively the face or separate itself from the descriptive register of the text. Instead, the thing is an idea outside of any physical referent, the thing within Jameses text sheds the sensation of thingness. In fact, the thing of the word itself takes on characteristics of Heidegger and Derrida as it becomes obscured by mere objects.


Lucan in RE to Portrait:

Posits that a thing lies beyond the horizon of things, beyond representation


James explores

The slippage or fluctuation between the physical and metaphysical referent.


Picture and Text essay By James

Where he proclaims the writers liberty from the tyranny of things, a freedom from things that is the freedom from having to render them in pencil or paint.


Picture and Text and Portrait

-(Portrait) Description of gardencourt: with the best of conscience, Miss Stackpole wishes to describe the setting of Garden Court in a journalistic endeavor as an interview, to which Isabel responds "I don't think you ought to do that. I don't think you ought to describe the place." Henrietta gazed at her as usual. "Why, it's just what the people want, and it's a lovely place." "It's too lovely to be put in the newspapers, and it's not what my uncle wants."
-(picture)-Miss Stackpole seems to be a page torn from picture and text, as this particular example reads as a compulsion to represent things, juxtaposed against Isabel’s desire to liberate herself from that very compulsion.
-re: liberation, Isabel puts forth her best efforts to save herself from a similar fate, as Casper and lord warburton approach her hand in marriage as a Knick knack they seek to acquire.


Modernist intentions

As Bill Brown points out in the collection A Sense of Things, Portrait is less of a reflection of James Beliefs as it is a distinct gesture born from the modernist tradition which emphasizes intention over materials, and favors realism over classicism. By mediating the relations between characters, the characters within Portrait also become swept up in the principles of modernist technique, carefully arranged as a method of treatment rather than by choice of material.