Auerbach, Jeffrey A.
AUERBACH, Jeffrey A.
ADDRESSES: Offıce—Department of History, California State University, Northridge, 18111 Nordhoff Street, Northridge, CA 91330. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: St. Mary's College of Maryland, visiting instructor, 1994-95; Scripps College, visiting assistant professor, 1995-96; Yale University, lecturer, 1996; Pomona College, lecturer, 1997; Stanford University, lecturer and humanities fellow, 1998-2000; California State University—Northridge, assistant professor, 2000—; Consultant to History Channel.
MEMBER: Phi Beta Kappa.
AWARDS, HONORS: Hans Gatzke Prize, Yale University, 1996, for Outstanding Dissertation in European History; William Andrews Clark Memorial Library fellowship, 1998; Andrew W. Mellon fellow, Huntington Library, 1997; Yale Center for British Art fellowship, 1997.
SIDELIGHTS: Historian Jeffrey A. Auerbach has specialized in the relationship between art and empire. His book The Great Exhibition of 1851: A Nation on Display examines the cultural meanings of the first world's fair. The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations, held at London's Crystal Palace in 1851, was intended to honor progress. Indeed, one of the most memorable inventions at the Exhibition was the newly invented water-closet, or flush toilet, which Prince Albert had installed in a section of model houses designed for the working classes. Auerbach shows that, though the Exhibition was promoted as a symbol of progress and peace, it actually became a battlefield of conflicting meanings. As critic E. S. Turner explained in London Review of Books, the book "is less concerned with what the Exhibition had to show than with its setting in history, its function as a 'cultural battlefield,' its political and social implications, its bearing on the philosophy of trade, its revelations concerning industrial strengths and weaknesses, its influence on nationalism and imperialism, on class warfare and xenophobia, on religious divisions and . . . its role as a 'defining occasion' in the supposed search for a national identity."
Turner, however, questions the validity of this analysis. Despite the Exhibition's success, the critic wrote, "life after 1851 went on as unregenerately as before," and the talk about the dignity of labor was soon forgotten. "As is the way with exhibitions," he commented, "the masses who visited the Crystal Palace forgot what should have been memorable, or remembered the wrong things." Reviewer Albert J. Schmidt expressed a more positive judgment of The Great Exhibition of 1851 in Journal of Social History. He particularly commended Auerbach's section on how the Exhibition served as an integrative force in British society.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Journal of Social History, Albert J. Schmidt, review of The Great Exhibition of 1851: A Nation on Display, summer, 2001, p. 994.
London Review of Books, November 25, 1999, E. S. Turner, "The Crystal Palace Experience," pp. 19-20.
California State University, Northridge Web site,http://www.csun.edu/ (October 23, 2001), "Auerbach Homepage."*