Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Very rough draft

The World’s Columbian Exhibition was held in Chicago in 1893. In 1980s the US economy was transitioning from agriculturally based to industrialized one, and technology, consumption, and progress were more and more emphasized in the society. The ideology of the World’s Columbian Fair was to diminish fear of change in the nation by promoting sense of unity and a sense of pride for great American accomplishments. The White City that was especially build at the Jackson Park for this occasion took two years to construct. The mail buildings were in the Beaux-Arts style, which accentuates logic, harmony, and uniformity. In summer of 1893 the Great Depression began and the World’s Columbian Exhibition with its White City, marvels of new technology, and thousands of exhibitions offered hope and a promise of a better tomorrow while at the same time encouraging the American pride. “Pride in American goods and business, they felt, would be part of the overall plan of encouraging pride in America--and as we will see later, would inspire confidence in the new group of corporate leaders who would shape America in the twentieth century. “[i]
In Jimmy Corrigan The World’s Columbian Exhibition serves as an impressive backdrop for a depressing story about Jimmy’s granddad who was left by his dad during Fair visit. In Chris Ware’s book The Exhibition and its meaning is reevaluated with a 100 year distance. Whit this time distance we can see how much of “a better tomorrow” did we achieve. The Exhibition’s goals of introducing technology into everyday life and generating consumption’s society certainly are reached. However, the idea was that this change would improve individual lives; we would be richer, happier. But unfortunately, it did not turn out that way. After a century since World’s Columbian Exhibition our society is controlled by corporations. Chris Ware is emphasizing this by bordering the story about Jimmy’s granddad with images of famous McDonalds arches. The promise of World’s Fair was short-lived similarly to the grand buildings of the exhibition that were breath-taking but never meant to last. In Jimmy we see a critic of values that were promoted during World’s Columbian Exhibition and that in many ways influenced and determined the direction of society in twentieth century. Keeping all this in mind, motives for organizing the World’s Exhibition should be reevaluated. Behind all the pride for American achievements, glorifying of the technology and the progress were “they” just trying to find ways to earn more money?
“Leo Tolstoy, who didn't personally attend but read about the Exposition in Russian papers found that the "Chicago exhibition, like all exhibitions, is a striking example of imprudence and hypocrisy: everything is done for profit and amusement--from boredom--but noble aims of the people are ascribed to it. Orgies are better." (qtd. in Rydell, 8) while ironically Edward Bellamy, the very well-respected man whose utopian ideas were gestured to in the White City, believed that the "underlying motive of the whole exhibition, under a sham pretense of patriotism is business, advertising with a view to individual money-making." (qtd. in Trachtenberg, 215)”[ii]



Adam Johns said...

The first couple paragraphs could use some serious unpacking. While I usually discourage lengthy summaries, in this case you're trying to explain some rather complicated research re: a complicated cultural phenomenon - a paragraph to indicate your argument, followed by even several pages discussing the pertinent details of the White City might be in order.

Your discussion of JC is fine - rooted in our discussion in class, maybe mildly extending it.

I was _very_ interested to see your invokation of Tolstoy and of Bellamy. It's worth noting, from one Dostoevsky fan to another, that Dostoevsky's _Notes from Underground_, among other works, ridicules the "Crystal Palace," a forerunner of the White City.

So, what do you want to do here? Your brief discussion of Bellamy indicates a possible argument that the White City was _insufficiently_, or inauthentically, Utopian. Tolstoy might have said much the same.

So, are you arguing that the hope for Utopia is naive, and likely to be sold out to corporations? Or that we need to create a Utopia / White City that can resist or deny corporate influence?

You could integrate JC thoroughly into the argument, or move the paper in another direction entirely...

Andrea said...

To tell you the truth I am not sure what I wont to prove or say, that is the reason why I decided to write rough, rough draft. I was hoping once I start writing I would have a more clear idea of my project. I am very interested to do more research on Tolstoy and if I can find some Dostoevsky’s comments on World’s Exhibition I would be trilled.

Adam Johns said...

Dostoevsky's comments are sort of a small part of _Notes from Underground_. It's an interesting connection.

You could, conceivably, include Bellamy in your project; his "Looking Backwards" is the work everyone thinks about. The contrast between his imagined future and the actual future of J. Corrigan might be interesting.