Mark Robson
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Defending poetry, or, is there an early modern aesthetic?

The eminence of poetry, for Sidney, comes from the idea that the poet is a maker. 'Cultural poetics', which Stephen Greenblatt's preferred term for his form of criticism, makes clear the expansion of 'poetics' into a domain that is no longer strictly associated with 'poetry'. Formulation of the idea of the early modern can be taken as an exemplary moment in the permeation of a 'new' historicism through literary studies since the early 1980s, most obviously through the twin historicisms of cultural materialism and cultural poetics. The context for the post-Romantic 'story' of aesthetics is usefully reconstructed by Andrew Bowie, following Gadamer. The Habermasian view of modernity that Bernstein elaborates makes clear the centrality of the aesthetic to its definition, however alienated that aesthetic may be, and indeed aesthetics is crucial to post-Kantian accounts of philosophical modernity as modernity.

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