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Toward a Poetics of Precarious Community
No longer able to read community in terms colored by a romantic nostalgia for homogeneity, closeness and sameness, or the myth of rational choice, we nevertheless face an imperative to think the common. The prominent scholars assembled here come together to articulate community while thinking seriously about the tropes, myths, narratives, metaphors, conceits, and shared cultural texts on which any such articulation depends. The result is a major contribution to literary theory, postcolonialism, philosophy, political theory, and sociology.
Constellations of a Contemporary Romanticism takes its title and point of departure from Walter Benjamin's concept of the historical constellation, which puts both "contemporary" and "romanticism" in play as period designations and critical paradigms. Featuring fascinating and diverse contributions by an international roster of distinguished scholars working in and out of romanticism--from deconstruction to new historicism, from queer theory to postcolonial studies, from visual culture to biopolitics--this volume makes good on a central tenet of Benjamin's conception of history: These critics "grasp the constellation" into which our "own era has formed with a definite earlier one." Each of these essays approaches romanticism as a decisive and unexpired thought experiment that makes demands on and poses questions for our own time: What is the unlived of a contemporary romanticism? What has romanticism's singular untimeliness bequeathed to futurity? What is romanticism's contemporary "redemption value" for painting and politics, philosophy and film?
Cultures, Values, and Change
Explores how historical, artistic, and technological developments and cross-cultural exchange have altered our conceptions of creativity. Creativity and Beyond offers a wide-ranging, interdisciplinary tour of cultures past and present to examine the different ways people have conceived of “creativity” and how the common understanding of creativity is changing in the current flux of global culture. Weiner analyzes the ways in which understanding creativity is tied to broader contemporary patterns, including intellectual concerns with postmodernism; trends in the arts; the changing status of women; the power of the electronic media; multiculturalism; developments in psychology, science, and technology; and the dramatic political, economic, and social transformations of our age.
Auditory Aesthetics in Ancient Greece
In the four centuries leading up to the death of Euripides, Greek singers, poets, and theorists delved deeply into auditory experience. They charted its capacity to develop topologies distinct from those of the other senses; contemplated its use as a communicator of information; calculated its power to express and cause extreme emotion. They made sound too, artfully and self-consciously creating songs and poems that reveled in sonorousness. Dissonance reveals the commonalities between ancient Greek auditory art and the concerns of contemporary sound studies, avant-garde music, and aesthetics, making the argument that "classical" Greek song and drama were, in fact, an early European avant-garde, a proto-exploration of the aesthetics of noise. The book thus develops an alternative to that romantic ideal which sees antiquity as a frozen and silent world.
Visual Modernity in China
The Distorting Mirror analyzes the multiple and complex ways in which urban Chinese subjects saw themselves interacting with the new visual culture that emerged during the turbulent period between the 1880s and the 1930s. The media and visual forms examined include lithography, photography, advertising, film, and theatrical performances. Urbanites actively engaged with and enjoyed this visual culture, which was largely driven by the subjective desire for the empty promises of modernity—promises comprised of such abstract and fleeting concepts as new, exciting, and fashionable. Detailing and analyzing the trajectories of development of various visual representations, Laikwan Pang emphasizes their interactions. In doing so, she demonstrates that visual modernity was not only a combination of independent cultural phenomena, but also a partially coherent sociocultural discourse whose influences were seen in different and collective parts of the culture. The work begins with an overall historical account and theorization of a new lithographic pictorial culture developing at the end of the nineteenth century and an examination of modernity’s obsession with the investigation of the real. Subsequent chapters treat the fascination with the image of the female body in the new visual culture; entertainment venues in which this culture unfolded and was performed; how urbanites came to terms with and interacted with the new reality; and the production and reception of images, the dynamics between these two being a theme explored throughout the book. Modernity, as the author shows, can be seen as spectacle. At the same time, she demonstrates that, although the excessiveness of this spectacle captivated the modern subject, it did not completely overwhelm or immobilize those who engaged with it. After all, she argues, they participated in and performed with this ephemeral visual culture in an attempt to come to terms with their own new, modern self.
Georges Bataille and the Sacrifice of Form
In the 1930s, Georges Bataille proclaimed a ferociously religioussensibility characterized by simultaneous ecstasy and horror. Ecce Monstrum investigates the content and implications of this religious sensibility by examining Bataille's insistent linking of monstrosity and the sacred. Extending and sometimes challenging major interpretations of Bataille by thinkers like Denis Hollier and Rosalind Krauss the book reveals how his writings betray the monstrous marks of the affective and intellectual contradictions he seeks to produce in his readers. Charting a new approach to recent debates concerning Bataille's formulation of the informe (formless), the author demonstrates that the motif of monstrosity is keyed to Bataille's notion of sacrifice--an operation that ruptures the integrality of the individual form. Bataille enacts a monstrousmode of reading and writing in his approaches to other thinkers and artists--a mode that is at once agonistic and intimate. Ecce Monstrum examines this monstrous mode of reading and writing through investigations of Bataille's sacrificialinterpretations of Kojve's Hegel and Friedrich Nietzsche; his contentious relationship with Simone Weil and its implications for his mystical and writing practices; his fraught affiliation with surrealist Andr Breton and his attempt to displace surrealism with hyperchristianity; and his peculiar relations to artist Hans Bellmer, whose work evokes Bataille's religious sensibility.With its wide-ranging analyses, this book offers insights of interest to scholars of religion, philosophers, art historians, and students of French intellectual history and early modernism.
Phenomenological Sightings in Modern Art and Literature
Fascination with quotidian experience in modern art, literature, and philosophy promotes ecstatic forms of reflection on the very structure of the everyday world. Gosetti-Ferencei examines the ways in which modern art and literature enable a study of how we experience quotidian life. She shows that modernism, while exhibiting many strands of development, can be understood by investigating how its attentions to perception and expectation, to the common quality of things, or to childhood play gives way to experiences of ecstasis—the stepping outside of the ordinary familiarity of the world. While phenomenology grounds this study (through Husserl, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, and Bachelard), what makes this book more than a treatise on phenomenological aesthetics is the way in which modernity itself is examined in its relation to the quotidian. Through the works of artists and writers such as Benjamin, Cézanne, Frost, Klee, Newman, Pollock, Ponge, Proust, Rilke, Robbe-Grillet, Rothko, Sartre, and Twombly, the world of quotidian life can be seen to harbor a latent ecstasis. The breakdown of the quotidian through and after modernism then becomes an urgent question for understanding art and literature in its capacity to further human experience, and it points to the limits of phenomenological explications of the everyday.
Crossing Divides and Breaking Ground
Environmental aesthetics crosses several commonly recognized divides: between analytic and continental philosophy, Eastern and Western traditions, universalizing and historicizing approaches, and theoretical and practical concerns. This volume sets out to show how these,perspectives can be brought into conversation with one another.The first part surveys the development of the field and discusses some important future directions. The second part explains how widening the scope of environmental aesthetics demands a continual rethinking of the relationship between aesthetics and other fields. How does environmental aesthetics relate to ethics? Does aesthetic appreciation of the environment entail an attitude of respect? What is the relationship between the theory and practice? The third part is devoted to the relationship between the aesthetics of nature and the aesthetics of art. Can art help “save the Earth”? The final part illustrates the emergence of practical applications from theoretical studies by focusing on concrete case studies.