The Radical Aesthetic

Overview

This ground-breaking new work offers a spirited and severe critique of the turn to an anti-aesthetic in theoretical writing and asserts that it has now become an intellectual necessity to rethink the aesthetic and remake aesthetic discourse. Over the past two decades, the most influential cultural and literary theorists appear to have agreed that the category of the aesthetic, as founded in the thought of Kant and Hegel, is up for deconstruction. Marxists, cultural materialists, poststructuralists and ...

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Overview

This ground-breaking new work offers a spirited and severe critique of the turn to an anti-aesthetic in theoretical writing and asserts that it has now become an intellectual necessity to rethink the aesthetic and remake aesthetic discourse. Over the past two decades, the most influential cultural and literary theorists appear to have agreed that the category of the aesthetic, as founded in the thought of Kant and Hegel, is up for deconstruction. Marxists, cultural materialists, poststructuralists and deconstructive psychoanalysts have converged in a "mission of cultural eugenics". These theorists have, however, failed to address the democratic and radical potential of aesthetic discourse. Matters concerning the politics of beauty and the functions of affect and the emotions in contemporary culture have been left to the reactionaries, often with disastrous consequences, as evidenced in the narrow instrumentalism of current educational policies. In stark opposition to this anti-aesthetic project, Isobel Armstrong evolves a new poetics, forging an alternative aesthetic discourse by remaking its theoretical base, ousting Narcissus in favor of Echo. She discusses a wide range of theorists and philosophers, including Adorno, Bourdieu, Dewey, Eagleton, Freud, Hegel, Kant, Kristeva, Rose, Vygotsky, and Winnicott, and uses specific literary and other artistic examples, from Blake and Wordsworth to Antony Gormley and Clint Eastwood, to illustrate her arguments.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780631220534
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 10/27/2000
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 292
  • Product dimensions: 7.87 (w) x 9.84 (h) x 0.59 (d)

Meet the Author

Isobel Armstrong is professor of English at Birkbeck College, University of London. She has published widely on Shakespeare, Romanticism, Victorianism, nineteenth-century poetry, poetics, politics, theories of language and contemporary literary theory. She is co-editor of Women: A Cultural Review. Her most recent books include Victorian Poetry: Poetry, Poetics and Politics (1993) and the Oxford Anthology of Nineteenth-Century Women Poets (1996), edited with Joe Bristow.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: A Case for Rethinking the Category of the Aesthetic.

Part I: The Hermeneutics of Suspicion and the 'Problem' of the Aesthetic:.

1. Cultural Materialism and Culturalism.

2. The Aesthetic and the Polis: Marxist Deconstruction.

3. Writing from the Broken Middle - Post Structuralist Deconstruction.

Part II: The Poetics of Emotion:.

4. Textual Harassment: the ideology of close reading, or how close is close?.

5. Thinking Affect.

Part III: Cultural Capital, Value and a Democratic Aesthetics:.

6. Beyond the Pricing Principle.

7. And Beauty? A Dialogue.

Part IV: Feminism and Aesthetic Practice:.

8. Debating Feminisms.

9. Women's Space: Echo, Caesura, Echo.

Bibliography.

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