In this book, one of the most accomplished and thoughtful cultural commentators of the day, considers the contradictory nature of cultural relations. Elizabeth Wilson explores these themes through an examination of fashion, feminism, consumer culture, representation and postmodernism. Debates within feminism on the nature and effects of pornography are used to illustrate a particular kind of cultural contradiction. Wilson recognizes that postmodernism permitted the reappropriation of subjects that were not previously considered worthy of attention, or opposed to the idea of emancipation, chief among these was fashion. She shows that the association of an interest in this culturally significant subject with a revisionist project raises doubt

Against Utopia: The Romance of Indeterminate Spaces

Against Utopia: The romance of indeterminate spaces

In her first published novel, Under the Net (1954), Iris Murdoch wrote that ‘some parts of London were necessary and some were contingent’. This was a philosophical in-joke of the period, but seemed to me when I first read the novel to represent a profound truth not only about London but about all great cities. The ‘necessary’ parts of London – the old, central districts of Soho and the Law Courts, the sophisticated shopping streets in Knights-bridge, and the gracious parks and romantic residential districts such as Hampstead and Maida Vale – represented its essence. The contingent parts –suburbs, industrial estates, rubbish tips, railway sidings, dead ends and wasteland – were not ...

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