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Eighteenth-century consumers in Britain, living in an increasingly globalized world, were infatuated with exotic Chinese and Chinese-styled goods, art and decorative objects. However, they were also often troubled by the alien aesthetic sensibility these goods embodied. This ambivalence figures centrally in the period's experience of China and of contact with foreign countries and cultures more generally. David Porter analyzes the processes by which Chinese aesthetic ideas were assimilated within English culture. Through case studies of individual figures, including William Hogarth and Horace Walpole, and broader reflections on cross-cultural interaction, Porter's readings develop new interpretations of eighteenth-century ideas of luxury, consumption, gender, taste and aesthetic nationalism. Illustrated with many examples of Chinese and Chinese-inspired objects and art, this is a major contribution to eighteenth-century cultural history and to the history of contact and exchange between China and the West.Read more
- Emphasises the importance of the interaction between England and China in the eighteenth century
- Offers a new approach to material culture to explain the cultural contexts of decorative arts
- Includes 26 illustrations of Chinese and Chinese-inspired art and objects
Reviews & endorsements
"An ingenious new monograph by David Porter, professor of English and comparative literature at the University of Michigan, explores the significance of Chinese decorative arts in 18th-century England. It turns out that the English conducted many serious social and political debates in the idiom of Chinese porcelain [...] Some of his readings, Porter concedes, are speculative. There were moments when, encountering a provocative claim at the beginning of a chapter, I raised an eyebrow, cleared my throat, and prepared to doubt. Yet every one of his arguments is compelling—and it is a testimony to his patience, carefulness, and creativity that most are persuasive."
-Lauren F. Winner , Books and CultureSee more reviews
"Not only does The Chinese Taste in Eighteenth-Century England greatly expand our knowledge of the cultural assimilation of chinoiserie in Britain, it also offers fresh insights into other important stylistic trends in the period, such as Classicism, Gothicism and Romanticism [...] Porter's new readings will allow us to re-examine eighteenth-century ideas of luxury, taste and aesthetic nationalism. Illustrated with many examples of Chinese and Chinese-inspired objects and art, this new monograph is a major contribution to the cultural history of exchange between China and the West."
-Daniel Cook, The Times Literary Supplement
"Historians of eighteenth-century English material culture and its influences have been well served by this erudite and fascinating take on a topic we thought we knew well."
-Clive Edwards, The British Scholar Society
"Porter aims for a more rigorous standard that avoids overly elevating coincidental aesthetic traditions and also does not underestimate the complexity and value of transcontinental exchange." -Elizabeth Chang, Eighteenth-Century Fiction
03rd Nov 2016 by LShetabi
Excellent read! A very insightful look into the influence of cross cultural exchange that in some ways is still very present today. The content is delivered with the most exquisite prose, a delightful book.
Review was not posted due to profanity×
- Date Published: March 2014
- format: Paperback
- isbn: 9781107662377
- length: 242 pages
- dimensions: 244 x 170 x 13 mm
- weight: 0.39kg
- availability: Available
Table of Contents
Introduction. Monstrous beauty
Part I. China and the Aesthetics of Exoticism:
1. Eighteenth-century fashion and the aesthetics of the Chinese taste
2. Cross-cultural aesthetics in William Chambers' Chinese Garden
Part II. What Do Women Want?:
3. Gendered Utopias in transcultural context
4. William Hogarth and the gendering of Chinese exoticism
Part III. Of Rocks, Gardens, and Goldfish:
5. The socio-aesthetics of the Scholar's Stone
6. Horace Walpole and the Gothic repudiation of Chinoiserie
Part IV. China and the Invention of Englishness:
7. Chinaware and the evolution of a modern domestic ideal
8. Thomas Percy's Sinology and the origins of English Romanticism
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