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I was really surprised to find Robert Hewison?s The Heritage Industry (subtitle) Britain in a Climate of Decline) on the Dooyoo book list whilst searching for the term Heritage as I associate as a textbook. I?m studying for a Masters in Heritage Studies at Salford University and this along with Freeman Tilden?s interpreting Our Heritage are the core textbooks for our course. In one sentence the main theme of the book is that Britain is becoming one gigantic open-air museum. There are no heavy industries left such as coal mining or steel manufacturing so all we are left with is the memories and the remnants to turn into museums and heritage centres. I actually read it before I started the course and wondered why we were given this book to read as preparatory reading as it seemed to me at the time it was arguing against heritage thus arguing against the need to study it. The cove of he book conveys these themes. It has a map of Britain shaped as a Dodo. On opening the book you are confronted with a cartoon depicting an imaginary heritage site complete with steam railway, windmills old Bovril adverts and Morris men. There are cartoons like this throughout the book and they are fairly amusing. The chapter headings are as follows 1 Living in a museum This chapter focuses mainly on urban and industrial heritage and uses Wigan Pier as a case study (we visited it for one of our filed trips) as it was one of the first purpose built heritage centres making use of derelict warehouses. Hewison argues that this industrial past is trivialized, sanitised and packaged as nostalgia for the good old days. I?ve actually written a whole essay on the topic How heritage bends History for it?s own uses. 2 The Climate of Decline This chapter is about the changing climate of Britain through modernisation. Hewison argues that when there is upheaval people look back to the good old days. Modern architecture, the growth in technology and t
he loss of traditional industries are blamed for this phenomenon. 3 Brideshead Re-visited This chapter looks at the role of the big country houses such as Chatsworth, Lyme Park, Tatton Park and Woburne Abbey. It explores the interest in how the other half lives and also looks into the history of the National Trust. It also covers new houses built like old ones for the nouveau riche. The quest for authenticity is another topic I have debated and discussed in my course. 4 The Heritage Industry This chapter looks at industrial heritage in more detail using Ironbridge and Beamish as prime examples. It discusses the usage of industrial workplaces as visitor attractions. 5 The Politics of Patronage This chapter looks at funding heritage and contemporary arts. It looks at the quangos formed by trustees to monopolise governing boards. 6 A Future for the Past The final chapter sums the book up drawing the arguments together to say that we have no history left all we have is heritage and fake nostalgia. Heritage blends into a jumble of indefinite eras. The book is actually quite an interesting read It was ground breaking when it came out and really makes you think. I personally am sick of the book as it is quoted in just about every article I read for university but it is very very influential. I would recommend it if you did have an interest in heritage or history.as it is very easy to rerad. It is a good introduction to some of the debates i have talked about.I would recommend you try and get it from your local library, as I am sure it is out of print.
A landmark book for anyone interested in the cult of the country house or the impact the growing obsession with the past is having on the modern British economy.