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The Space of Crisis

Images and Ideas of Europe in the Age of Crisis: 1914–1945

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Vittorio Dini and Matthew D'Auria

Focusing on European cultural and intellectual history in first half of the twentieth century, The Space of Crisis investigates how notions of crisis and changing perceptions of space influenced the way Europeans imagined themselves, their past and their future.
The book is an attempt to reassess some of the main assumptions of historians and political theorists about the way intellectuals, artists, legal theorists and historians interpreted Europe’s crisis during the 1920s and 1930s. By so doing, it investigates the intellectual foundations of the ensuing federalist and Europeanist movements, highlighting the importance of the writings of those years in understanding today’s Europe and its current predicaments.

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PART I: THE CRISIS OF THE EUROPEAN MIND

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PART I THE CRISIS OF THE EUROPEAN MIND 29 The French Museum as a Paradigm of Europe’s Crisis Some Reflections on Paul Valéry’s Writings Annamaria DUCCI Between the mid-nineteenth and the early twentieth century the issue of the social role of art is at the centre of the cultural policies of European states. After Nietzsche’s disenchanted reflections on history, aesthetics has in fact taken on an ever growing social connotation, a phenomenon that has been aptly defined as the “aestheticization of politics”.1 Not only art presents itself as a key to understanding society, but its mise en scène in museums and exhibitions becomes essential in the construction of national identity.2 The museum is one of the “national symbols” par excellence,3 the place where it is possible to reconnect the individual to the collective history of a country, a place that speaks to feelings by appealing to a common heritage.4 Works of art, more than archives and I would like to thank Rosemary Fraser for her indispensable help with the English translation. 1 Harvey, D., The condition of Postmodernity: an enquiry into the origins of cultural change, Cambridge MA, Blackwell Publishing, 1990, p. 35. 2 “While, in the nineteenth century, the myth of the autonomy of art as a separate activity was established, […] the history of art aimed to construct itself as an autonomous field of knowledge, artfully creating a separate history, which would no longer be supportive of general historical knowledge. [...] This century has shaped the...

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