Symbolism and modern urban society / Sharon Hirsh.

by Hirsh, Sharon LLooking glass.

Publisher: Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 2004.Description: 400 pages : illustrations (some colour) ; 26cm.ISBN: 0521009367; 0521810965.Subject(s): Sociology, UrbanLooking glass | Symbolism (Art movement)Looking glass | Symbolism (Art movement) -- Social aspectsNote: Includes bibliographical references and index.
Item type Home library Collection Class number Status Date due Barcode Item reservations
Reference Central Saint Martins
Main collection
Printed books 709.0347 HIR (Browse shelf (Opens below)) Library use only 22227504
Long loan Chelsea College of Arts
Main collection
Printed books 709.0347 HIR (Browse shelf (Opens below)) Issued 10/01/2022 35743166
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Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:

This is the first social history of the Symbolist movement, providing new definitions and theories for Symbolism and Decadence. Sharon Hirsh addresses issues such as spatial/street confrontations with the crowd, the diseased city, and the New Woman. Focusing on works by well known artists such as Van Gogh, Munch and Ensor, Hirsh also considers the works of artists who contributed in important ways to the Symbolist movement and the cities in which they worked.

Includes bibliographical references and index.

Table of contents provided by Syndetics

  • 1 Introduction
  • 2 Symbolist society
  • 3 The de-structured city
  • 4 The sick city
  • 5 The city woman, or the should-be mother
  • 6 City interiors and interiority
  • 7 The ideal city, the dead city

Reviews provided by Syndetics


Hirsh (Dickinson College) contributes an important social history to the growing literature on northern European modernism. Hirsh interprets the late 19th-century cultural manifestations of symbolism as a set of responses to rapid urban development. This new history will place standard discussions of symbolist hermeticism, spirituality, and interiority in a new light. Analyses of well-known artists (Van Gogh, Munch) will draw new readers, while specialists in modernism and symbolism will learn much from her discussion of Belgian, Swiss, and Scandinavian art. This book's new interpretive lenses for the analysis of symbolism are as diverse and interdisciplinary as the movement itself. Literary figures (Mallarme, Rilke, Verhaeren, Rodenbach), popular authors (Nordau), and sociologists (Simmel) are central to Hirsh's analysis of symbolists' alternating fascination with, disaffection with, and flight from the city. Whereas the modern metropolis bred mental, physical, and social pathologies, the "dead" medieval city of Bruges became the symbolists' ideal city. Symbolism's modernity, dependent on antimodern elements, was as complex as the newly defined psychological and sociological ills. This, the best book on symbolism in ages, should be read by historians of modern art, literature, and urbanism. ^BSumming Up: Essential. All levels. J. E. Housefield Texas State University-San Marcos