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Andrew Bowie

1 Modern philosophy and the emergence of aesthetic theory: Kant Self-consciousness, knowledge and freedom The importance attributed to aesthetic questions in recent philosophy becomes easier to grasp if one considers the reasons for the emergence of modern aesthetic theory. Kant’s main work on aesthetics, the ‘third Critique’, the Critique of Judgement (CJ) (1790), forms part of his response to unresolved questions which emerge from his Critique of Pure Reason (CPR) (1781) and Critique of Practical Reason (1787).1 In order to understand the significance of the CJ

in Aesthetics and subjectivity
Kevin Hayes

The narrator of ‘The Man of the Crowd’ offers a critical means of analysing the entire text by asserting that, had Retzsch beheld the old man, he would have preferred its ‘incarnation of the fiend’ to his own. Exploring Retzschs contemporary reputation highlights his provision of Percy Shelley, amongst others, with poetic inspiration. His works offered authors a kind of translation from written to visual imagery, and developed a reputation of fashionable sophistication. The reference within ‘The Man of the Crowd’ thus locates the narrator in relation to contemporary bourgeois culture. Poe‘s awareness of Retzschs Outlines far preceded ‘The Man of the Crowd’; he contributed to critical discussion of the artist by contesting the view that ‘the chief merit of a picture is its truth’. Delighting in Retzschs omission of colour, Poe discovered in the Outlines a minimalist model for his own writing style. Developing this into the sharp contrasts between light and darkness apparent in the crowd, he achieved a pictorial quality much commented on by Poe enthusiasts, and developed an aesthetic theory combining vivid symbolism with stark detail. A. W. Schlegel observed similar, predecessor techniques in the work of John Flaxman. In a world enthused with phrenology, Retzschs influence on Poe is explored in the schisms between external and internal characteristics. Subtly undermining the theory that a figures outline gives a genuine impression of what is within, Poe finally alights on the thimblerigger as the pinnacle of the theme. The shells structure the process by which observers and readers utilise what they see in order to imagine what is hidden.

Gothic Studies
Gothic Landscapes and Grotesque Bodies in Mary Shelley‘s The Last Man
Patricia Cove

In The Last Man, Mary Shelley builds on Edmund Burke‘s aesthetic theory and Ann Radcliffe‘s definition of Gothic terror as elevating and imaginative by projecting sublime terror onto her landscapes. Yet, her characters’ identification with sublime landscapes insufficiently articulates their visceral pain; Shelley also emphasises the horrible, physical dimensions of her characters’ suffering, asserting the primacy of their bodies as sites of their identities and afflictions. The freezing, grotesque horror of disease conflicts with the landscapes elevating sublimity, as the Romantic and Gothic aesthetic categories of terror and horror collide in Shelley‘s efforts to articulate the materiality of her characters’ traumatic experiences.

Gothic Studies
From Kant to Nietzsche

In 1796 a German politico-philosophical manifesto proclaims the 'highest act of reason' as an 'aesthetic act'. The ways in which this transformation relates to the development of some of the major directions in modern philosophy is the focus of this book. The book focuses on the main accounts of the human subject and on the conceptions of art and language which emerge within the Kantian and post-Kantian history of aesthetics. Immanuel Kant's main work on aesthetics, the 'third Critique', the Critique of Judgement, forms part of his response to unresolved questions which emerge from his Critique of Pure Reason and Critique of Practical Reason. The early Romantics, who, after all, themselves established the term, can be characterized in a way which distinguishes them from later German Romanticism. The 'Oldest System Programme of German Idealism', is a manifesto for a new philosophy and exemplifies the spirit of early Idealism, not least with regard to mythology. The crucial question posed by the Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling of the System of Transcendental Idealism (STI) is how art relates to philosophy, a question which has recently reappeared in post-structuralism and in aspects of pragmatism. Despite his undoubted insights, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel's insufficiency in relation to music is part of his more general problem with adequately theorising self-consciousness, and thus with his aesthetic theory. Friedrich Schleiermacher argues in the hermeneutics that interpretation of the meaning of Kunst is itself also an 'art'. The book concludes with a discussion on music, language, and Romantic thought.

Essays on art, theatre and politics

The question of whether art produces politically transformative effects has been intensely debated within critical discourses concerned with art, literature, and performance practices. The Aesthetic Exception reopens the fundamental questions that underpin these debates and examines the entrenchments they produce within critical circles. It does so for the purposes of developing a new approach that circumvents longstanding theoretical impasses, while emphatically embracing the idea that art can make meaningful interventions in the social world that enriches our political life, without collapsing into well-known contradictions. Offering wide-ranging perspectives that encompass the historical avant-garde, political activist street theatre in India, contemporary critical art practices, and postdramatic performance, among others – the book tracks three structural impasses that continue to benight debates on art’s relation to the political: the problem of aesthetic autonomy which separates art from the social world; how art can communicate political effects while remaining ‘art’; and the problem of how art relates to the terrain of real political struggle. Drawing on the classical debates of Adorno, Lukács, and Sartre, the more recent interventions of Habermas and Rancière, and the political theory of Gramsci, Althusser, and Stuart Hall – the book proposes a ‘conjunctural’ way of understanding the aesthetic possibilities that underpin political art practices. It invites readers to consider the stakes for political art today in an age plagued by widening inequalities, and the saturation of the world by the expropriative logics of globalisation. The book concludes with a call to rethink political art around the figure of the planetary conjuncture.

The Specificity of the Aesthetic/Die Eigenart des Ästhetischen
Ian Aitken

of literary criticism or political philosophy. The Aesthetic , therefore, marks a point of changeover, as well as return to some of the issues which Lukács had explored in early works such as Soul and Form and The Theory of the Novel . At the same time, Lukács’ return to general questions of high aesthetic theory in the Aesthetic also accompanied his re

in Lukácsian film theory and cinema
Open Access (free)
The beginning of aesthetic theory and the end of art
Andrew Bowie

5 Hegel: the beginning of aesthetic theory and the end of art Which Hegel? Hegel’s work has come in recent years to exemplify many of the choices facing contemporary philosophy. The changed status of Hegel can, though, seem rather odd, given the labyrinthine nature of his texts, the huge divergences between his interpreters from his own time until today, and the fact that some of the philosophers who now invoke him come from an analytical tradition noted for its insistence on a clarity not always encountered in Hegel himself. Even contemporary interpreters range

in Aesthetics and subjectivity
Open Access (free)
Between Adorno and Heidegger
Joanna Hodge

13 Joanna Hodge Aesthetics and politics: between Adorno and Heidegger Antinomies of reason The alignments of T. W. Adorno to the protracted, difficult process of coming to terms with a broken Marxist inheritance and of Martin Heidegger to the Nazi politics of rethinking the human might seem to leave them at opposite non-communicating poles of political difference.1 Their views on aesthetics seem similarly starkly opposed, in terms both of judgements and of the place of aesthetics within the philosophical pantheon. Aesthetic theory for Adorno marks out a domain of

in The new aestheticism
Friedrich Schiller and the liberty of play
Peter M. Boenisch

asserts that the dramatic playtext (the semiosis) must necessarily be supplemented with kinetic and aisthetic ‘life’. Similar to Hegel’s later idea, discussed in the previous chapter, Schiller, too, maintains that only such a process of mediation will make the sensible Idea of the drama fully available. It is this mediating function which Schiller’s chorus articulated and embodied in a concrete and literal way. Therefore, this chapter will not turn to Schiller’s rich opus of dramatic and dramaturgic writings, but I will instead focus on his aesthetic theory in order to

in Directing scenes and senses
Abstract only
National identity in The Wild Irish Girl and Sybil
Andrew Ballantyne

This chapter offers a comparison of two novels that share a surprising number of features, and which both have strong links with aesthetic theory. The first is The Wild Irish Girl: A National Tale, by Lady Morgan (1776–1859), which was first published in 1806 and is the most self-consciously picturesque novel ever written. The second is Sybil, or the Two Nations by

in Cultural identities and the aesthetics of Britishness