Surface and Depth: Dialectics of Criticism and Culture

Overview

A paradox of surface and depth pervades the field of aesthetics. How can art's surface meanings and qualities be properly appreciated without understanding the cultural context that shapes their creation and perception? But exploring such underlying cultural conditions challenges the perception of thosequalities and meanings of aesthetic surface that constitute the captivating power of art. If aesthetics deals with both surface and depth, impassioned immediacy yet also critical distance of judgment, how can this ...
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Overview

A paradox of surface and depth pervades the field of aesthetics. How can art's surface meanings and qualities be properly appreciated without understanding the cultural context that shapes their creation and perception? But exploring such underlying cultural conditions challenges the perception of thosequalities and meanings of aesthetic surface that constitute the captivating power of art. If aesthetics deals with both surface and depth, impassioned immediacy yet also critical distance of judgment, how can this doubleness be held together in one philosophical vision?In his new book, Richard Shusterman explores the dialectics of surface and depth by examining key issues in the philosophy of art and culture—from the logic of interpretation and evaluation to the roots of taste and convention, from the meanings of aesthetic purity and immediacy to the role of nature, theory, and history in our experience and understanding of art. In treating these topics, Shusterman combines the methods of analytic philosophy, critical theory, and poststructualism to arrive at new positions, displaying the philosophical versatility, originality of vision, and graceful, accessible writing that have become his trademark. Surface and Depth is crowned by a new definition of art as dramatization.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"'Surface and Depth' is an excellent text, combining lucidity and keen analytical thinking with an ability to challenge preconceptions, to make surprising connections and to open up new avenues of enquiry. I would encourage anyone interested in aesthetics, arts criticism, cultural theory and philosophy to read this book and to enter into a richly rewarding engagement with a stimulating and lively mind."—John Danvers, University of Plymouth, UK. Consciousness, Literature and the Arts, April 2003.

"Those familiar with Shusterman's work will find here the critical insight, careful argument, and clever prose they expect. Those who have not before had the pleasure of reading him will find there is no one better at distilling and analyzing contemporary aesthetics: the chapters on Croce, Wittgenstein, Alain Locke, T. S. Eliot, and Bourdieu are exempla of analytic sensitivity combined with the principle of charity. . . . Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-level undergraduates and above."—Choice, January 2004

"In Shusterman's discourse, instrumentalities are always parts of the ends they create. His pragmatism is therefore best described as reconstructive, advancing and refashioning the experiential realm. . . . This is pragmatism at its best, and what this discursive mode accomplishes is a deeper understanding that in turn . . . leads to better experiences and end results. . . . The beauty of this methodology is that it intelligent avoids the danger of a naive pragmatism . . . that is all surface manifesto for action, while it also avoids the danger of a pragmatism that locks itself into deep abstract theory with no sense of how it gets redirected toward practice and experience. Because Surface and Depth manages to do this with such élan and perspicacity, I situate it among the best, most interesting, and thought-provoking philosophical kind of work currently taking place."—Gustavo Guerra, George Washington University, Journal of Speculative Philosophy 17:4, 2003

"Philosophy texts are not the usual fare on our book review menu. This reviewer now feels that we might wish to broaden our diet. In Shusterman's book we find that rare example of a theoretical text that is palatable, even enjoyable for the non-philosopher reader. But best of all, by constructing a new ground for criticism he provides cogent underpinnings for our studies in vernacular architecture."—Bryon E. Bronston, Vernacular Architecture Newsletter, Summer 2004

"In the 1960s, artists became concerned with closing the gap between art and life. Philosophers responded by insisting that such a gap is essential if art is to have any meaning. In this masterful and informed philosophical critique, Richard Shusterman shows how his pragmatist aesthetics can dissolve the dilemma and realign the relationships among philosophy, art, and life"—Arthur C. Danto, Columbia University

"Richard Shusterman is one of the most interesting voices in contemporary aesthetics. In this impeccably lucid book he delivers a rigorous assessment of diverse theories of art and makes an eloquent case for the deep value of aesthetic surfaces."—Rita Felski, University of Virginia

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801486838
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 6/28/2002
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

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