The Reality of the Counterculture

Stevenson, Guy and Garland, Sarah. 2018. 'The Reality of the Counterculture'. In: 6th International Conference of the EAM (European Network of Avant-Garde & Modernism Studies): "Realism(s) of the Avant-Garde and Modernism". University of Münster, Germany 5 - 7 September 2018. [Conference or Workshop Item]

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Abstract or Description

In 1988 David Lodge identified two forces vying for dominance in English literary history: ‘the realist, mimetic and readerly’ and the ‘symbolist, metaphoric and writerly’. If modernism represented the latter, he wrote, postmodernism went ‘above, around and beyond’ it. This panel looks to the 1960s culture of pop art and multimedia experimentation to puzzle Lodge’s assumption. Contrary to popular belief, can the counterculture be categorised as realist and mimetic rather than postmodernist in its aims? From Marshall McLuhan’s vision of the digital tribe, to the Beats’ spilt religion, didn’t the major artistic figures from the period in fact long for mimesis of a primary reality beneath the culture they were countering? Drawing on her archival research into the print-visual-audio project Aspen Magazine, Sarah Garland identifies an attitude to art in the sixties that both mimicked and typified the media culture of the mainstream. Guy Stevenson, whose research focuses on covert conservative aspects in the expressly progressive 60s, looks to Aspen contributor and inaugural North American media theorist Marshall McLuhan for evidence of a Catholic faith in divine reality that contradicts his apparently postmodernist purposes.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Panel)


Marshall McLuhan, Modernism, The Counterculture, Realism, Ezra Pound

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Departments, Centres and Research Units:

English and Comparative Literature


March 2018Accepted
6 September 2018Completed

Event Location:

University of Münster, Germany

Date range:

5 - 7 September 2018

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

13 Jun 2024 15:55

Last Modified:

13 Jun 2024 22:19


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