This chapter sheds light on the origins and characteristics of nineteenth-century realism and naturalism, including the influence of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century determinist philosophical discourses in the writings of Buffon, Maupertuis, Condillac, Helvétius, Saint-Hilaire and Darwin. The philosophical discourse of the ‘true style’ was influenced in part by the ‘providential’ vision of ‘man’ and reality. The chapter further highlights how this determinist tradition influenced nineteenth-century French literary realism and naturalism, examining the distinctions between realism and naturalism, focusing on conceptions of representation and human agency within the naturalist movement. The study draws attention to the fact that the perspective on nineteenth-century realism rests on fundamental misconceptions concerning the historical role and character of the realist movement. The overall objective is to elaborate the French nineteenth-century tradition of ‘critical’ naturalist-realism, distinguish that tradition from more normative forms of realism, and establish its themes, stylistic devices and historical consequence.
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book considers memory as a specific framework for the study of popular film, intervening in growing debates about the status and function of memory in cultural life and discourse. It examines the relationship between official and popular history and the constitution of memory narratives in and around the production and consumption of American cinema. The book explores the political stakes of cinematic discourse in its production of national memory. It also examines the discursive and institutional apparatus that has come to support the memory of Classic Hollywood in British cultural life. The book also considers both the presence of music and colour in nostalgia films of the 1990s and the impact of digital and video technologies on the representational determinants of mediated memory.