The relativity of history: The pre-raphaelite rhetoric of time

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter explores the technique of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in bricolaging history out of fragments, in order to reuse and repurpose them. They reconstructed British literary and artistic cultural canon through embracing the virtues of disintegration, ambiguity, and transition, expanding their understanding through the interrogation of new historical periods and geographical spaces. These artists exposed the subjectivities and politics of canons, and the inventedness of historical origins and unity. They thus intervened in the processes of cultural formation to point to the new authority of the artist as the embodiment of cultural meanings and as pathfinders for others. Artists exposed a meeting between history and fiction in which an imagined moment in the life of a real historical individual presented an intertextual opportunity. The present was thus interjected into the past, destabilizing it, in order to allow artists to inscribe new meanings and relevance into history.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationRepresenting the Past in the Art of the Long Nineteenth Century
Subtitle of host publicationHistoricism, Postmodernism, and Internationalism
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9781351004176
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences


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