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Cultural Capitals:
Early Modern London and Paris
Karen Newman

Honorable Mention for the 2010 Laura Shannon Prize in Contemporary European Studies, Nanovic Institute for European Studies

Paperback | 2009 | $32.95 | £27.95 | ISBN: 9780691141107
224 pp. | 6 x 9 1/4 | 30 halftones.
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Social theories of modernity focus on the nineteenth century as the period when Western Europe was transformed by urbanization. Cities became thriving metropolitan centers as a result of economic, political, and social changes wrought by the industrial revolution. In Cultural Capitals, Karen Newman demonstrates that speculation and capital, the commodity, the crowd, traffic, and the street, often thought to be historically specific to nineteenth-century urban culture, were in fact already at work in early modern London and Paris.

Newman challenges the notion of a rupture between premodern and modern societies and shows how London and Paris became cultural capitals. Drawing upon poetry, plays, and prose by writers such as Shakespeare, Scudéry, Boileau, and Donne, as well as popular materials including pamphlets, ballads, and broadsides, she examines the impact of rapid urbanization on cultural production. Newman shows how changing demographics and technological development altered these two emerging urban centers in which new forms of cultural capital were produced and new modes of sociability and representation were articulated.

Cultural Capitals is a fascinating work of literary and cultural history that redefines our conception of when the modern city came to be and brings early modern London and Paris alive in all their splendor, squalor, and richness.


"Newman's handsomely produced volume is a true work of cultural history: wide-ranging and purposefully interdisciplinary. Newman boldly attempts to locate the beginnings of the 'ways of thinking, believing, and acting that we have come to call modern' in the early modern city. In bringing early modern London and Paris together so productively, she has, as she intended, made those scholars familiar with one or the other, or even both, reconsider what they thought they knew."--Tracey Hill, Renaissance Quarterly

"In Cultural Capitals, Karen Newman sets out to explore what this dramatic urban transformation meant for those who lived in [London and Paris]. . . . Through close readings of the representations made of these cities--in maps, engravings and surveys, as well as in plays and poetry--Newman seeks out the points of tension and contention in these early modern urban societies."--Miles Ogborn, London Journal

"Witty, yet substantiated with serious footnotes, Newman joins scholarship with the irony of the post-modern critic in such a way as to make us all wish to know better early modern Paris and London."--Ronald C. Rosbottom, French Review

"Cultural Capitals is a worthy effort, but it is not the last word, it is only the beginning of what should prove a new avenue of study. Professor Newman has presented her readers with a number of intriguing ideas that other scholars may in the future explore in greater depth and with new insights."--Clifton W. Potter Jr., Review of English Studies

"Karen Newman's fascinating study contests the idea that the urbanization of Europe is a 19th-century phenomenon."--The Guardian

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Table of Contents:

CHAPTER ONE: Early Modern London and Paris 11
CHAPTER TWO: Toward a Topographic Imaginary 34
CHAPTER THREE: Walking Capitals 60
CHAPTER FOUR: "Filth, Stench, Noise" 76
CHAPTER FIVE: Courtship and Consumption in Early Modern Paris 92
CHAPTER SIX: Armchair Travel 109
CHAPTER SEVEN: Death, Name, and Number 120
CHAPTER EIGHT: Sex in the City 134
EPILOGUE: Paperwork 148

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File created: 7/11/2017

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