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revolting modernism  

 

Faye Hammill
Joined: 5 months ago
Posts: 25
 

Adrien: thank you for your fascinating talk. It is so interesting to see how a magazine with the word 'moderne' in its title had, nevertheless, such as complicated relationship with 'modernity' and 'modernism'. You quoted from the opening editorial in which Madeleine talks about other periodicals in the field which 'teach bad taste'. Does this emphasis on pedagogies of taste endure throughout the period you are looking at? I am wondering how far LRM appeals to an overarching notion of good taste in order to maintain its position in relation to modernism/modernity? I mean, if some aspects of modernism are 'revolting', and 'outrageous', while other facts of the modern are desirable, then one must choose exactly the right line. Is LRM presenting itself as the guide that will help readers to do this? I am wondering how far the governing idea of a discerning taste helps LRM to contain the tensions presented by its different contributors and their varying attitudes to the modern? I think perhaps this is one implication of what you have argued? Thank you again.


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Adrien Rannaud
Joined: 6 months ago
Posts: 6
 

Thank you very much Faye. It's something I hadn't thought of at first, but I think it's an essential part of Madeleine's rhetoric in the 1920s.This semantics of good taste is perhaps less present under Bruchési and the other editors of the 1930s. It must be said that this hierarchy of tastes takes into account Québécois society's relationship with the United States on the one hand and with France on the other. It is significant to see Bruchési evoking in 1930 the bad American “magazines” and the good French “periodicals”. In fact, the magazine according to Bruchési in his editorials has a pedagogical function, which is that of cultivating what he calls “The Idea” (L’Idée) - which obviously includes the idea of defending francization. We are therefore on the side of an ideal of the intellectual journal, which, in the media imaginary of the time, is more related to the French context. As we can see, however, La Revue moderne tries to navigate between the two “American” and “French” models, both economically (Cole’s columns and other articles from The Delineator) and symbolically. In my opinion, La Revue moderne is becoming hesitant about this question of taste for modernity. For example, the fiction published in 1936 (psychological novels essentially pre-published by a modernist publisher) contrasts sharply with traditional sentimental novels and Marjolaine's reading advice in the “courrier du mois” column. Yet it is thanks to fiction that the magazine managed to sell in that same year...

I don't know, then, whether the magazine really manages to draw a distinct line. In the forties, modernity is associated with good taste in a more obvious way than it was in the previous decade. I see something intrinsic to the Quebec cultural field of the 1930s, as I was able to show in my essay on women’s writing in the interwar period.

Thank you again for your question and your comments, which are always very appreciated.

 


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Andrew Thacker
Joined: 6 months ago
Posts: 10
 

@arannaud Thank you for your paper on a magazine of which I was not at all familiar. It was a really fascinating account of how modernism and modernity were negotiated in the magazine. I found particularly interesting the material on suburban modernity and the Dominion style housing, partly as the styling of the housing in the magazine looked to represent international modernism at the time rather than any national traditions. So I wondered if there was any debate in the magazine about a more nationally inflected form of housing - a form of house that would more defiantly assert a Québécois or Francophile identity?  I'm reminded, as a point of comparison of the vogue in England for supposed 'Tudorbethan' houses in the interwar years (see this article by Deborah Sugg Ryan https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.2752/175174211X13099693358717 ) as a way of asserting national identity.  Thanks again.

 

 

 


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Adrien Rannaud
Joined: 6 months ago
Posts: 6
 

Dear Andrew, thank you for this question and for the reference to Deborah Sugg Ryan's work. My answer may disappoint you: there is no debate at all on a potential Quebecois aesthetic orientation of housing. The references I found only refer to the importance of valorizing local materials in order to boost the provincial economy (so it's very limited). We are more in the valorization of an ideal of American suburban life. We can see this in the two styles presented by Labelle: both models refer to homes being built in the suburbs of Toronto and New York. But this well-asserted americanity is never discussed as such, which adds even more to the paradox that the magazine continues to represent. It would be interesting to check out other magazines on this subject. For example, I know that La Revue populaire publishes articles related to the Dominion Housing Act. Perhaps publishers have a different and more nationalist discourse on the subject… Thanks again: your question gives me ideas for future research!


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Tim Satterthwaite
Joined: 6 months ago
Posts: 54
 

Following up on Andrew's question: what struck me about the two versions of the 'modern house' is how well they seem to recreate the divide in British debates over modernisation, between European modernism and vernacular housing styles. For example, the British magazine The Ideal Home, in the 1920s at least (it launched in 1920), was highly conservative in its vision of Tudor England as a model for British housing; and it was traditionalist styles that won out in interwar British domestic architecture. So I wondered whether those two houses might stand as a proxy for the debate in Canada over francization that you mention above? French (modernist) vs British (traditionalist)? The 'Dominion Housing Act' seems to have Empire overtones in its title?


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Adrien Rannaud
Joined: 6 months ago
Posts: 6
 

Great point, Tim, especially on the Ideal Home. But I am actually thinking more of a conflict of American (modern style) vs. a French idea of housing (traditional style). Like I said, there is no clear debate on that matter. However, I am inclined to believe that it is this duality that prevails, given the editor’s bias towards traditional style and attachment to France. The “Dominion Housing Act” itself is misleading because it refers to the Royal Assent given to legislation in Canada during the inter-war period.


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