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The Subject of Aesthetics

A psychology of art and experience

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Tone Roald

How does art influence us? In The Subject of Aesthetics, Tone Roald approaches aesthetics as a psychological discipline, showing how works of art challenge our habitual ways of perceiving the world. While aesthetics has traditionally been a philosophical discipline, Roald discusses how it is very much alive in the realm of psychology – a qualitative psychology of lived experience. But what actually constitutes an aesthetics of lived experience? The book answers that question by analyzing people’s own engagement with visual art. What emerges is that the object of aesthetics is indeed the subject.

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Andrea S. Thomas

Since the 1874 publication in Belgium of the first posthumous edition of Les Chants de Maldoror, the enigmatic work has served as an inspiration for the poetic and creative liberation of countless twentieth-century writers and artists. Little is known, however, about the book’s elusive French author Isidore Ducasse, known as le comte de Lautréamont, and his abbreviated life (1846-1870). In the absence of an original manuscript, Lautréamont’s readers have over time altered his poetry for personal, political, and aesthetic reasons. Symbolist literary journals, first editions of his work, surrealist illustrated editions, and the prestigious Pléiade edition (1970 and 2009), reveal how varying editions of Lautréamont’s work have in turn contributed to his legend. In Lautréamont, Subject to Interpretation, Andrea S. Thomas carefully explores these editions of this so-called poète maudit to show how impassioned readers can shape not only the reception of works, but the works themselves.

This Deleuzian Century

Art, Activism, Life

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Edited by Rosi Braidotti and Rick Dolphijn

According to Gilles Deleuze (1925-1995) philosophy is not for the privileged few or the specialized ones: it is an activity that appeals to anyone who is attuned to the desire for the ethical life. Inspired by Spinoza’s concepts of desire and freedom, Deleuze’s ethical life is a life that aims at experimenting with sustainable ways of coping with the earth, with society, with the long term struggles and contemporary crisis that matter to us all. An ethical life defines thinking as the invention/intervention of new concepts and takes the risk of working with them in the real world. This book has been written in this spirit of free explorations of intensities. It explores the entanglements between art, activism and life in the service of training us to live ethically. Contrary to morality, which is the implementation of socially accepted rules and regulations, ethics requires an analysis of the power relations that structure our interaction as relational subjects, in order to enable us to deal with them.
The original contributions presented in this volume aim to set these ideas to work in contemporary practices, exploring the ways in which Deleuze’s thought continues to be relevant at the start of the 21st century. As a product of the “Deleuze Circle”, an open collaboration between academics situated in the Low Countries started in 2008, the chapters in this book contribute to our ongoing conversations on how to live the ethical life today in academia, in art but above all in our multiple ecologies of belonging.

Off Beat

Pluralizing Rhythm

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Edited by Jan Hein Hoogstad and Birgitte Stougaard Pedersen

Off Beat: Pluralizing Rhythm draws attention to rhythm as a tool for analyzing various cultural objects. In fields as diverse as music, culture, nature, and economy, rhythm can be seen as a phenomenon that both connects and divides. It suggests a certain measure with which people, practices, and cultures may comply. Yet, for this very reason rhythm can also function as a field of exclusion, contestation, and debate. In that respect, rhythm possesses an underestimated meaning-creating potential. Whereas its connecting force is often accentuated in the aesthetic, political, and commercial usage of the term, the divisive aspect of rhythm is at least as important. This volume wants to rid rhythm of its harmless, nearly esoteric, reputation as a cosmic unifier by understanding it in the light of the contemporary medial turn. In the present collection of essays, we have encouraged approaches that combine political, aesthetic, musical, and theoretical dimensions of rhythm.

Efficacité / Efficacy

How To Do Things With Words and Images?

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Edited by Véronique Plesch, Catriona MacLeod and Jan Baetens

This book aims at offering a broad survey of the encounter between word and image studies and anthropology and to demonstrate the mutual benefits of this dialogue for both disciplines in the three fields of the image (Marin), the social history of writing (Petrucci), and memory (Yates). The themes discussed by the contributors to this volume, all specialists in their field, highlight each in their specific field one or more aspects of the agency of both text and image. Bridging the gap between the Anglo-Saxon and the Latin research traditions, this bilingual volume focuses on three major questions: What do we do with texts and images? How do texts and images become active cultural agents? And what do texts and images help us do? Contributions cover a wide range of topics and disciplines (from visual poetry to garden theory and from ekphrasis to new media art), and represent therefore the best possible overview of what cutting-edge analysis in word and image studies stands for today.

Aesthetic Anxiety

Uncanny Symptoms in German Literature and Culture

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Laurie Ruth Johnson

Aesthetic Anxiety analyzes uncanny repetition in psychology, literature, philosophy, and film, and produces a new narrative about the centrality of aesthetics in modern subjectivity. The often horrible, but sometimes also enjoyable, experience of anxiety can be an aesthetic mode as well as a psychological state. Johnson’s elucidation of that state in texts by authors from Kant to Rilke demonstrates how estrangement can produce attachment, and repositions Romanticism as an engine of modernity.

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Lars Eckstein

Reading Song Lyrics offers the first systematic introduction to lyrics as a vibrant genre of (performed) literature. It takes lyrics seriously as a complex form of verbal art that has been unjustly neglected in literary, music, and, to a lesser degree, cultural studies, partly as it cuts squarely across institutional boundaries. The first part of this book accordingly introduces a thoroughly transdisciplinary interpretive framework. It outlines theoretical approaches to issues such as performance and performativity, generic convention and cultural capital, sound and songfulness, mediality and musical multimedia, and step by step applies them to the example of a single song. The second part then offers three extended case studies which showcase the larger cultural and historical viability of this model. Probing into the relationship between lyrics and the ambivalent performance of national culture in Britain, it offers exemplary readings of a highly subversive 1597 ayre by John Dowland, of an 1811 broadside ballad about Sara Baartman, ‘The Hottentot Venus’, and of a 2000 song by ‘jungle punk’ collective Asian Dub Foundation. Reading Song Lyrics demonstrates how and why song lyrics matter as a paradigmatic art form in the culture of modernity.

Semiotic Encounters

Text, Image and Trans-Nation

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Edited by Sarah Säckel, Walter Göbel and Noha Hamdy

Semiotic Encounters: Text, Image and Trans-Nation aims at opening up scholarly debates on the contemporary challenges of intertextuality in its various intersections with postcolonial and visual culture studies. Commencing with three theoretical contributions, which work towards the creation of frameworks under which intertextuality can be (re)viewed today, the volume then explores textual and visual encounters in a number of case studies. While (a) the dimension of the intertextual in the traditional sense (as specified e.g. by Genette) and (b) the widening of the concept towards visual and digital culture govern the structure of the volume, questions of the transnational and/or postcolonial form a recurrent subtext. The volume’s combination of theoretical discussions and case studies, which predominantly deal with ‘English classics’ and their rewritings, film adaptations and/or rereadings, will mainly attract graduate students and scholars working on contemporary literary theory, visual culture and postcolonial literatures.

Nightmare Japan

Contemporary Japanese Horror Cinema

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Jay McRoy

Over the last two decades, Japanese filmmakers have produced some of the most important and innovative works of cinematic horror. At once visually arresting, philosophically complex, and politically charged, films by directors like Tsukamoto Shinya ( Tetsuo: The Iron Man [1988] and Tetsuo II: Body Hammer [1992]), Sato Hisayasu ( Muscle [1988] and Naked Blood [1995]) Kurosawa Kiyoshi ( Cure [1997], Séance [2000], and Kaïro [2001]), Nakata Hideo ( Ringu [1998], Ringu II [1999], and Dark Water [2002]), and Miike Takashi ( Audition [1999] and Ichi the Killer [2001]) continually revisit and redefine the horror genre in both its Japanese and global contexts. In the process, these and other directors of contemporary Japanese horror film consistently contribute exciting and important new visions, from postmodern reworkings of traditional avenging spirit narratives to groundbreaking works of cinematic terror that position depictions of radical or ‘monstrous’ alterity/hybridity as metaphors for larger socio-political concerns, including shifting gender roles, reconsiderations of the importance of the extended family as a social institution, and reconceptualisations of the very notion of cultural and national boundaries.

Our House

The Representation of Domestic Space in Modern Culture

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Edited by Gerry Smyth and Jo Croft

Space has emerged in recent years as a radical category in a range of related disciplines across the humanities. Of the many possible applications of this new interest, some of the most exciting and challenging have addressed the issue of domestic architecture and its function as a space for both the dramatisation and the negotiation of a cluster of highly salient issues concerning, amongst other things, belonging and exclusion, fear and desire, identity and difference.
Our House is a cross-disciplinary collection of essays taking as its focus both the prospect and the possibility of ‘the house’. This latter term is taken in its broadest possible resonance, encompassing everything from the great houses so beloved of nineteenth-century English novelists to the caravans and mobile homes of the latterday travelling community, and all points in between. The essays are written by a combination of established and emerging scholars, working in a variety of scholarly disciplines, including literary criticism, sociology, cultural studies, history, popular music, and architecture. No specific school or theory predominates, although the work of two key figures – Gaston Bachelard and Martin Heidegger – is engaged throughout.
This collection engages with a number of key issues raised by the increasingly troubled relationship between the cultural (built) and natural environments in the contemporary world.