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No Place of Grace

Antimodernism and the Transformation of American Culture, 1880-1920

A new edition of a classic work of American history that eloquently examines the rise of antimodernism at the turn of the twentieth century.
First published in 1981, T. J. Jackson Lears’s No Place of Grace is a landmark book in American studies and American history, acclaimed for both its rigorous research and the deft fluidity of its prose. A study of responses to the emergent culture of corporate capitalism at the turn of the twentieth century, No Place of Grace charts the development of contemporary consumer society through the embrace of antimodernism—the effort among middle- and upper-class Americans to recapture feelings of authentic experience. Rather than offer true resistance to the increasingly corporatized bureaucracy of the time, however, antimodernism helped accommodate Americans to the new order—it was therapeutic rather than oppositional, a striking forerunner to today’s self-help culture. And yet antimodernism contributed a new dynamic as well, “an eloquent edge of protest,” as Lears puts it, which is evident even today in anticonsumerism, sustainable living, and other practices. This new edition, with a lively and discerning foreword by Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen, celebrates the fortieth anniversary of this singular work of history.

408 pages | 6 x 9 | © 2021

History: American History, History of Ideas


“Auspicious radical history: cogently argued, crisply written, and alive with intellectual passion.”

Kirkus Reviews

“This is a powerful and provocative reinterpretation. . . of the dominant Anglo-American culture of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It is a book that all scholars in the field will have to take into account.”

American Historical Review

Table of Contents

Foreword by Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen

Preface (1994)



1. Roots of Antimodernism: The Crisis of Cultural Authority during the Late Nineteenth Century

A Pattern of Evasive Banality: Official Modern Culture in Industrial America

A Social Crisis: The Republican Tradition and the Radical Specter

Unreal City: Social Science, Secularization, and the Emergence of Weightlessness

Psychic Crisis: Neurasthenia and the Emergence of a Therapeutic World View

2. The Figure of the Artisan: Arts and Crafts Ideology

Origins of the American Craft Revival: Persons and Perceptions

Revitalization and Transformation in Arts and Crafts Ideology: The Simple Life, Aestheticism, Educational Reform

Reversing Antimodernism: The Factory, the Market, and the Process of Rationalization

The Fate of the Craft Ideal

3. The Destructive Element: Modern Commercial Society and the Martial Ideal

From Domestic Realism to “Real Life”

Class, Race, and the Worship of Force

The Psychological Uses of the Martial Ideal: The Cult of Experience and the Quest for Authentic Selfhood

The Psychological Uses of the Martial Ideal: Guiney, Norris, Adams

4. The Morning of Belief: Medieval Mentalities in a Modern World

The Image of Childhood and the Childhood of the Race

Medieval Sincerity: Genteel and Robust

Medieval Vitality: The Erotic Union of Sacred and Profane

The Medieval Unconscious: Therapy and Protest

5. The Religion of Beauty: Catholic Forms and American Consciousness

The Rise of Catholic Taste: Cultural Authority and Personal Regeneration

Art, Ritual, and Belief: The Protestant Dilemma

American Anglo-Catholicism: Legitimation and Protest

The Poles of Anglicanism: Cram and Scudder

6. From Patriarchy to Nirvana: Patterns of Ambivalence

The Problem of Victorian Ambivalence: Sources and Solutions

The Lotus and the Father: Bigelow, Lowell, Lodge
William Sturgis Bigelow
Percival Lowell
George Cabot Lodge

Aesthetic Catholicism and “Feminine” Values: Norton, Hall, Brooks
Charles Eliot Norton
G. Stanley Hall
Van Wyck Brooks

7. From Filial Loyalty to Religious Protest: Henry Adams

Early Manhood: The Meandering Track of the Family Go-Cart

Husband, Historian, Novelist: Adams’s Crisis of Generativity

The Antimodern Quest: From Niagara to the Virgin

Between Father and Mother, I: The Virgin, the Dynamo, and the Angelic Doctor

Between Father and Mother, II: The Antimodern Modernist
Biographical Appendix

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