Journal Article

Modernity and ‘English’ Tradition

Karin Hiscock

in Journal of Design History

Published on behalf of Design History Society

Volume 13, issue 3, pages 193-212
Published in print January 2000 | ISSN: 0952-4649
Published online January 2000 | e-ISSN: 1741-7279 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jdh/13.3.193
Modernity and ‘English’ Tradition

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This article is dedicated to the memory of Professor David Thistlewood

In this article I examine an aspect of the English experience of modernity in architectural design and planning by focusing upon the architectural journalism of John Betjeman while he was assistant editor at The Architectural Review between 1930 and 1935. By bringing his personal opinion at this time to the manner in which he exercises his influence, it is possible to reveal the complexity of loyalties and priorities that appear to 'compromise' his expected dedication to the universalised, utopian view of the radical modern solution, both stylistically and philosophically. I closely analyse the visual character of the journal during his incumbency, in order to discover these motivating factors, which testify to the struggle between the emotional and intellectual underlying the sense of loss and trauma that the explosion of modern life brings with it. His case study serves to confront assumptions about the legitimacy of interpreting English responses to the modern movement in general as regressive and romantic in a negative way, instead posing such strategies of coping as facts of a lived experience authentically expressed, and as more realistic both as a response to the modern and as its definition as a concept.

Keywords: architecture; 1930s England; English identity; graphic design; modernism; nationalism

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Art Forms ; Art Styles ; History of Art ; Industrial and Commercial Art

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