SOC232 lecture notes ; WEEK 2. 09/12
[ Lemert, pp. 23-30 (Modernity’s Classic Age: 1848-1919) ]
• Work of literature is called “classic” when people are still reading it after it was written
• In literature a writing is classic because it still serves as a useful reference or mean-
ingful model for stories people tell of their own lives
• a period of historical time is considered classical because people still refer back to it in
order to say things about what is going on today
• classical ages contain a great number of classical writings because literatures express
their social times.
• Freud in 1899 said that dreams always distorted stories of what the dreamer really
wishes or feels
• Most classical writings in the social and human sciences systematically excluded and
distorted women’s reality.
• People still find two truths in Freud’s version of Oedipus; 1. They have very mixed and
strong feelings about the people around them & 2. They tend to distort what they say
and think about the world because what they feel below the surface is far too upsetting.
This would be a reasonably good description of what many europeans at the turn of
the century were feeling (but not saying) about the modern world they lived in.
• Freud told of Oedipus to help tell the story of dreams, which, in turn helped the larger
story of the late modern culture in which many people wanted to believe anything but the
complicated reality of their worlds.
• The modern world brought destruction
• Lands were taken to build the railroads that fueled the factory system
• After 1853, Baron Georges Hausmann, often called the first city planner, ordered de-
struction of much of old paris to build the new boulevards and monuments that today’s
tourists mistakenly associate with tradition
• Architectural historians claim that engineering advances necessary to construct the
sky scraper were developed in order to rebuild Chicago vertically
• Modern “progress” entails the tearing down of much that is traditional
• Modernity could be defined as the culture in which people are promised a better life.
• Benefits of modernity are not much greater than it’s losses. • Many people lived in an Oedipul state: affected by strong feelings of love and anger for
their world but unable to give voice to the anger for fear of “saying the wrong thing”.
• This was the classic age of modernity & of social theory.
• Whether practical or professional, social theory became a more acutely necessary
skill in this period (1848 to first quarter of the 19th century)
• Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim, Max Weber, George Simmel, Sigmund Freud & otherare