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Elizabeth Wilson is one of our most radical cultural critics. In Cultural Passions she transcends the division between 'high' and 'low' culture, exploring the emotional commitment people bring to the books, performances, objects and rituals in which they find meaning and challenging an enduring suspicion of the pleasure of the aesthetic.
Ranging from Marcel Proust to tarot readings, from urban planning to interiors, Elizabeth Wilson investigates an underlying Puritanism in critical commentary on matters as wide ranging as Roger Federer and C S Lewis, Surrealism and fashion and the relationship of religion to fan culture. She questions why pleasure appears suspect, even as consumer society incites it and turns life into entertainment. She questions why there is such fear of elitism when at the same time the fans of mass culture are held in contempt. Subverting conventional views, her oblique point of view provides startling insights on both familiar and marginal cultural experiences.
Cultural critic and activist, Elizabeth Wilson is the author of Adorned in Dreams: Fashion and Modernity and of Bohemians: The Glamorous Outcasts (both I.B.Tauris), as well as Hallucinations and The Sphinx in the City. She has also written a series of crime novels, The Twilight Hour, War Damage and Dying for Peace. She is currently Visiting Professor of Cultural Studies, London College of Fashion, University of the Arts, London and she lives in London.
Table of Contents
1. Cultural Diseases 2. Introduction 3. Pleasure's Dangers 4. Looking Backward: Nostalgia Mode 5. Fashion 6. Magic Fashion 7. Glamour: The Secret Behind the Sheen 8. Dressed to Kill 9. The Vicissitudes of Camouflage 10. Fashion and Memory 11. Urbane Fashion 12. The Future We Have Lost 13. Austerity in Retrospect: the Glamour of Masochism 14. Postwar Perverts 15. Bethnal Green 16. Magic Moments 17. Modern Magic 18. 'Disorientated Agnosticism': Reading the Tarot 19. Secret Worlds 20. Temporary Gods Conclusion Epilogue