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Monday, August 30, 2010

'When was Modernism'/ Report / MA Previous

Report by: Basreena Basheer

Raymond Williams was a welsh academic, critic and novelist. He is widely credited for the introduction of cultural studies and the cultural materialistic approach. His major works include Culture and Society (1958), The Long Revolution (1961), Marxism and Literature (1977).

In the lecture that was given on 17 March 1987 at the University of Bristol, William tries to critically analyse the cultural movement modernism, which spawned across Europe between 1890 and 1940. According to literary historians, modernism is a blanket term for an explosion of new styles and trends in the arts and aesthetics beginning in the later part of the twentieth century. The central image that is associated with modernism is a void or emptiness. Various innovations were brought about in literature, painting, music and so on. The main writers associated with modernism include T.S.Eliot, D.H.Lawrence, Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, Ezra Pound and so on. Modernism also came to be considered an elite movement as it was restricted only to a handful.

In his lecture, Williams tries to confiscate the romantic element off the modernist movement. One problem with the selective appropriation of the movement is that in giving credit to only few writers who departed from conventional writing tradition, the older traditional writers are ignored. What is being overlooked here is the fact that without the older traditional writers, modernism could not have happened. In Williams’ words, “writers are applauded for their denaturalizing of language, their break with the allegedly prior view that language is clear, and for their making apparent in the narrative the problematic status of the author and his authority. But in excluding the great realists, this version of modernism refuses to see how they devised and organized a whole vocabulary and its structure of figures of speech with which to grasp the unprecedented social form of the industrial city.”

One possible explanation for this selective appropriation according to Williams was the change in the media of cultural production in the late nineteenth century and their ideological consequences. Photography, cinema, radio and television were gaining wide scale importance during that time. The public was getting increasingly drawn by these new mediums. Hence the sudden change in the field of arts and aesthetics was a reaction reacting to the sudden progression of media as an effort to defend their own territories. Therefore innovations like the stream of consciousness, interior monologue and the like.

In addition to this, this so called cultural reformation occurred only in the metropolitan cities, the new centers of imperialism such as Paris, Vienna, Berlin, London, New York. This could be due to the rapid migrations across borders. Writers like Joyce, Pound etc. were constantly moving in and around these cities. But with the World War I and the introduction of passports, borders got sealed for the first time, thus constraining the free movements of writers and intellectuals. The writers thus felt estranged and alienated in their new homes, and therefore produced works which depicted this isolation from the society. That is, these works only signified their emotions and state of minds, and so these works cannot be seen as representative of the period. These selective works according to William “achieved comfortable integration into the new international capitalism”, the modernists as well as their works moved from being anti-bourgeois to bourgeois. Thus the works got commodified and “its forms lent themselves to cultural competition and the commercial interplay of obsolescence.


Pinto, Anil. Lecture notes. Christ University, Bangalore.

Williams, Raymond. “When was Modernism?” Art in Modern culture: An Anthology of Critical Texts. Eds. Francis Franscina, and Jonathan Harris. London/New York: Phaidon, 1992.Print august 2010 august 2010

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

MA Western Aesthetics CIA 3 - Audio-visual Presentation

Notes by Sneha Sharon Mammen
Dated: 25th Aug, 2010.

1) Time limit: minimum- 10 mins, maximum- 30 mins
2) Structure:
Part A-- What is the essay about ( Answer in a few sentences)
Part B-- Explain the aforementioned. ( How the essay according to you is about it)
Part C-- Concluding remarks, your reflections on it (optional) and critical positions.
3) Naming of the file:
(Begin with the author's name, title of the essay underscore and your name, each word division separated by an underscore) for example: Raymond_Williams_When_was_Modernism_Basreena_Basheer
4) Evaluation Criteria: 70% for comprehensive analysis, 20% for effectiveness and creativity, 10% for language.
5) Date of submission: on or before 10th of September, 2010, 12 midnight.  
6) Sending the Assignments: Please upload your presentations to Youtube and send the links to Sneha Sharon and Anil Pinto on or before the date of submission.


How to Approach Your Research- For MA Previous

Notes by Sneha Sharon Mammen
Dated: 25th August, 2010.

The foremost thing to keep in mind is to CUT THE FACT that is to give what the question asks. A Giddens or an Eagleton might talk of a hundred things in a go but your approach should be selective, mapping the interaction between the self and society as Giddens talks of in his essay. Its not mere paraphrasing. Also, do not give biographical sketches if it is uncalled for. That Terry Eagleton was a student of Raymond Williams becomes an interesting factual analysis if only you could talk about how Wiliams' ideas evolve through Eagleton.

CITATIONS should be precise and accurate, not straightforwardly citing the professor if you use his ideas/borrowed ideas. Nonetheless, you should go in the apt details. Supposingly, if you use details from the blog, cite the person who has jotted it down there whether you use or do not use the person's ideas directly.
(If you mention someone's name with or without using their ideas, cite them. If you just refer to the books without directly using them, it becomes more of a bibliography.) When you mention the name of the book, underline it. In case of poems, articles, essays- single quotes and in case of direct statements from the piece use double quotes.

Academic writing also needs to be argumentative and clear. Do not forget to break your work into paragraphs. It represents the clarity and flow of thought. It should be arranged not only mentally but visually too. If the paragrapgh starts at the margin, leave one line space or else five spaces (one tab). It would also reflect your line of thought precisely bringing out your analysis and argument.

Portrait of a Motor Car by Carl Sandburg

Please click here to view Carl Sandburg's poem Portrait of a Motor Car

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The digital classroom is here - Bangalore - DNA

Following are the two articles that appeared in DNA newspaper, which have mentioned about this blog and experiments done here.
The digital classroom is here - Bangalore - DNA by Shruti Gautham on 23 Aug 2010

Blogging and pinging a change by Noopur Raval on 23 Aug 2010

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Global Virtual Conference on Technology for Blended and Distributed Education

There is a virtual conference on 'Technology for Blended and Distributed Education' organised by CEDBEC and TQMS, Christ University from August 18 to 20th, 2010. This space will attempt to cover a few of those sessions using live blogging.

Live blogging by CoverItLive. The conference is also being streamed live on

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Mid Semester Materials for V semester students of Literary Theory

introduction to literary theory
V Semester Literary theory class notes 2
Structuralism notes by Anusha R.
Ferdinand De Saussure
Syntagm and paradigm
Claude Levis Strauss
Related links
Mapping the essay (Saussure
Levis Strauss
Humanist Literary Theory

mid sem portions
works of Terry Eagleton
Literature as a construct
Birith of literature
Creative writing and Day Dreaming by Freud
more of Creative writing and Day dreaming
Psychoanalytic Approach

What is Literature by Terry Eagleton

What is literature?- Terry Eagleton
Mr. Pinto said "if there is any theory answers this question it must encompass all its dimensions, and even if one of the dimensions is missing the theory fails.

Terry Eagleton, in his essay challenges all the definitions of Literature that have been put forth and challenges the basic understanding of literature that we have. In fact he rejects the idea of any "basic understanding" of what is literature.

Literature as Imaginative writing
  • He begins with Literature being defined as imaginative writing.
  • With imaginative/fictional/creative writing such as works by Shakespeare, Milton etc. other works which were not exactly fiction or imaginative writing were included as a part for English Literature. Example: Sermons of John Donne,  Madame De Sevigne's letters to her daughter, philosophy of Descartes and Pascal. 
  • There was no clear distinction between 'fact' and 'fiction'. 
  • In the late 16th and early 17th century 'novel' used both factual and fictional events and even news reports were not considered purely factual. 
  • Genesis read as fact by some and fiction by others. Therefore no clear cut difference between fact and fiction.
  • Moreover  if one still goes by this definition, there are many works of fiction that are not considered to be Literature. Example: Mills and boon, Superman comics, Sidney Sheldon.
  • "If literature is 'creative' or 'imaginitive' writing, does this imply that history, philosophy and natural science are uncreative and unimaginative?"

Literature as 'writing' that uses peculiar language
  • It is because Literature uses the language in peculiar ways that it is different from everyday 'normal' way of speech.
  • Roman Jakobson, speaks of Literature as  "organised violence committed on ordinary speech".
  • Disproportion between signifier and signified: A mismatch between the signifier and the signified. For example when in Macbeth you read the line "tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow..." you know that the character is talking of eternal bore dome and not of the literal meaning of the word 'tomorrow' therefore creating a mismatch in the signifier (tomorrow) and the signified (the next day).
  • By bringing in peculiarity the language draws attention to itself. This is the reason when you read a fairy tale that starts with "Once upon a time..." you know that there is no real history associated with the line but it refers to a time in the story therefore drawing attention to itself or the text present in front of you.
  • "The formalists started out by seeing the literary work as a more of less arbitrary assemblage of 'devices' , and only later came to see these devices as interrelated elements or 'functions' within a total textual system. 
  • These devices included imagery, sound, rhythm, syntax, metre, rhyme, narrative techniques etc.
  • These devices were used as literary elements to 'defamiliarise' or 'estragement'.  
  • In other words "It was language 'made strange'; and because of this estrangement, the everyday world was also suddenly made unfamiliar".
  • What he is trying to imply here is that in our everyday routine we get so used to the usual things that we hardly notice them, we become "as Formalists would say 'automatised', Literature, by forcing us into a dramatic awareness of language, refreshes these habitual responses and renders objects more perceptile."
  • By defamiliarising or alienating us from the text or ordinary speech gives a fuller understand or a kind of revelation or the same experience. Its like after you have a fight or an argument, you sit alone and do a flashback of what happened and you try to hear your own words and put yourself in the other person's shoes and realise the damage that you might have done by saying certain things. In this process you are looking at your behaviour from outside, or other person's perspective, hence estranging yourself from you, and in the process gaining a better understanding of yourself.
  • "Most of the time we breathe in air without being conscious of it: like language, it is the very medium in which we move. But if the air is suddenly thickened or infected we are forced to attend to our breathing with new vigilance and the effect of this may be a heightened experience of our bodily life.”
Literature as something special
  • Then literature was looked by the formalists as a 'special' kind of language in contrast to the 'ordinary' language that we commonly use. 
  • But the problem here arises is that there is no universal 'ordinary' language. In other words the so called ordinary/common language is different for different classes, gender, region, status and so on.
  • "One person's norm may be another deviation"
  •  Same is the case with 'estrangement' mentioned earlier. A piece of writing might estranging is one context or community but not so in certain other. Example: in a particular society if everyone uses the sentence "shall I compare thee to a summer's day.." in everyday life it will not be estranging to that society anymore.
  • "Anyone who believes that 'literature' can be defined by such special uses of language has to face the fact that there is more metaphor in Manchester than there is in Marvell. There is no 'literary' device - metonymy, synecdoche, litotes and so on- which are not quite intensively used in daily discourse"
  • Another reason why considering 'estrangement' as the definition is problematic is that any piece of writing or sentence can be read as estranging. 
  • Example: a sign that reads -'Dogs must be carried on the escalator.' as unambiguous as it seems at first a close look at it reveals its ambiguity. Does it mean that you must carry a dog on the escalator, and in failing to do so you will be banned from the escalator?
  • Also a drunk person may see hidden meanings in various hoardings or even road signs giving it cosmic significance.  
Literature as a non-pragmatic discourse
  • When we read a poem referring to a woman as lovely as a rose, the poet is telling about women and love in general. Therefore we look at literature as non-pragmatic/practical as against a physics textbook.
  • The problem with this way of defining is that non-practicality of a text cannot be defined objectively. Which means that it depends on how a reader prefers to read the text. 
  • A reader can prefer to read Gibbon's account of Roman empire for information or prose style and so on. 
  • "A piece of writing may start off like life as history or philosophy and then come to be ranked as literature; or it may start off as literature and them come to be valued for its archaeological significance."
  • "What matters may not be where you came from but how people treat you."
  • Therefore, Eagleton says, there is no essence of literature because any writing can be read non-pragmatically.
  • Consider literature as being a highly valued kind of writing. If this were true, then any writing can be considered as literature. For me a letter written by my mother to be will hold a value higher than any piece of writing by Shakespeare. Therefore a value given to any writing must be subjective.
  • Values on the other hand are variable and change from time to time.
  • "The so-called 'literary canon', the unquestioned 'great tradition' of the 'national literature', has to be recognised as a construct, fashioned by particular people for particular time. There is no such thing as a literary work or tradition which is valuable in itself, regardless of what anyone might have said or come to say about it."
  • By which Eagleton suggests that the value that any writing enjoys is the value given to it by certain literary canon, or authority and is subject to change. 
  • Yet here he also says that value- judgements are unstable does not mean that they are subjective. 
  • Value-judgements depends on the value system and social ideologies that one belongs to. 
For conclusion please read the last paragraph of the essay.

I think that this a very clear case of what Derrida calls Deconstruction, where Terry Eagleton has picked 'literature' and by taking all the existing definitions he has proved that there is nothing called literature.

Creative Writers and Daydreaming by Sigmund Freud

In 'Creative Writers and Daydreaming', Freud's basic question is where does the creative writer draw his material from? And, how do they evoke emotions in us through their writing? To understand this, he tries to find an activity that comes close to that of creative writing. He finds this in child's play as even a child creates a world of his own. The child links his imagination to tangible objects in the world.

When we grow up, this 'play' has to stop and so we have to give up pleasure. This, according to Freud is very hard to do once we have experienced pleasure. Therefore, as a substitute to playing, we indulge in fantasizing or daydreaming. Unlike the child however, the adult is ashamed of his fantasies and hides them from everyone.

To explain this further, Freud puts down few important characteristics of fantasizing. The source of fantasies is unsatisfied wishes, which are fulfilled by means of these fantasies. There are two kinds of fantasies, (1) ambiguous wishes that "elevate the subject's personality", and (2) erotic fantasies. For men, ambitious wishes are predominant while for women, it is erotic ones. He goes on to say that daydreams, just like dreams at night, function as wish fulfilment. The difference is that the repressed wishes expressed in night dreams are desires that we are ashamed of and so, conceal them from even ourselves.

Freud now connects this act to daydreaming with the creative process. He calls the creative writer, "dreamer in broad daylight". He focuses his discussion on authors of popular novels and romances rather than classics. He says that one common feature of all these works in the central character or hero. The hero's journey becomes the journey of the ego of the writers as well as readers. From here, he goes on to suggest, that a piece of creative writing (like daydreams), is a substitute for child's play.

Next, Freud talks of those writers who get their material from folk tales and myths. In such cases, too, the author expresses himself in the choice of material and in the subtle changes he introduces. Even if he does not change the myth, these myths themselves might reflection of the collective fantasies of entire nations.

Finally, he attempts to answer the second question, which is how the creative writers evoke emotions in us. He says that a daydreamer conceals his fantasies from others because he is ashamed of them. Even if he did, others would be repelled by them. So, he wonders why is it that we experience so much pleasure from the creative writer's presentation of his fantasies. He says that we can only make a guess about how this actually happens. He proposes two techniques. Firstly, he softens and disguises the character, and secondly, he couches the text with literary and aesthetic qualities.

Psychoanalysis can be applied to study literature in three ways:

1. Studying the author to understand the text

2. Studying the text to understand the readers and time period

3. Studying the author through the text (a reflection of his childhood)

Literary Theory: Psychoanalytic Approach

Sigmund Freud's theory of the unconscious is one of his greatest contributions to psychology. As a doctor, Freud was interested in studying how the human mind affects the body through illnesses such as hysteria and neurosis; and in devising a treatment method. As a philosopher, he was interested in finding how the mind interacts with structures of civilization such as taboos and religious beliefs.

In his work 'Civilizations and Discontents', he argues that there are two principles, namely 'pleasure principle' and 'reality principal' that are at work. The pleasure principle focuses in immediate gratification of needs, irrespective of social norms or any other regulations. The reality principle is the one that controls the pleasure by adhering to the societal rules. This process of subordination of pleasure, and channelling that energy into something more productive is known as sublimation. As we know, for Freud, all pleasure is of sexual nature. So, he argues that when we sublimate our sexual desires and channel that energy into a productive activity, civilization is born.

Now, the repressed pleasure does not just disappear into oblivion. It occupies a place in the mind and these repressed thoughts form the unconscious. Children up to the age of 2 or 3 years do not have an unconscious because they have no reality principle that can sublimate the pleasure principle. Young children are believed to focus only on immediate gratification. It is only as we grow up learning about the rules and norms that reality principle develops.

The conscious mind does not have direct access to the unconscious. However, there are three indirect ways through which we can access the content of the unconscious, namely, (1) dreams, (2) parapaxes and (3) jokes.

Dreams are a path to the unconscious. They mask the unconscious desires in two ways. First is through condensation, where a metaphor or single image is used to represent some unconscious wish. Second process is that of displacement, where one idea is replaced by something associated with it. In language, it related to metonymy, such as when 'fine hand' refers to good handwriting. Parapaxes, better known as slips of tongue are another way that the unconscious tries to assert itself. They reveal the repressed wishes in the unconscious. The third path to unconscious is through jokes, be they of any kind, because we derive pleasure out from it.

Pleasure seeking behaviour is thought to be innate in human beings. It begins since a child is born. He says that the child is polymorphously perverse, i.e. the child's libidinal drives are directed towards any object that might provide pleasure. The child experiences pleasure when any of the erotogenic zones are stimulated. (The first pleasure of the child is of an incestuous nature since it is derived from contact with the mother's body.) It is only when the child enters the latency period that these polymorphously perverse drives are put on hold. At the onset of puberty, these desires acquire a new aim, which is directed to an object outside. Psychoanalysis explains how a child moves from polymorphous perversity to forming a gendered and sexual self. A very important of this process is the resolution of the Oedipus complex. This process turns us away from incestuous sexual desire to exogamous sexual desire.

Monday, August 09, 2010

International Conference on Asian Culture Industries: A Comparative Study of India, Japan and South Korea (Call for Papers )

International Conference on Asian Culture Industries: A Comparative Study of India, Japan and South Korea (Call for Papers ) 21st December 2010 — 22nd December 2010, Bangalore 

For further details click here

Suggestions for a Prposed Centre for Translation

Following are the suggestions I had sent to a friend of mine who is planning to set up a Centre for Translation. I post the suggestion here so that similar such initiatives may find these suggestions useful.


  1. Translation of works: literary, scientific, sacred, theoretical/philosophical. To the best of my knowledge no translation centre in India has taken such a broad-based approach to translations. You could be not only the pioneer, but may also inspire such works in the future in different Bhasha languages.
  2. Translation training workshops for different groups: teachers- local language and English, local language and state language, local language and French to translation texts from respective languages. The other groups could be students, youth, women, folk singers etc.
  3. I hope the centre does not fall in the trap of only translating to the local language. At least in the literary realm the flow should be two ways.
  4. Translation workshop of local language texts. You can invite translators from different languages- official and other – and put them in a week’s workshop or so during which they should translate at least one local language work in consultation with the local language writers, translators or scholars to their respective languages. Publication of such works needs to be followed up.
  5. A similar workshop to translate works from other languages to the local language can also be thought of.
  6. For literary texts, translate from diverse cultures: Afrikan, Latin American, Asia, Middle East, not necessarily from the dominant languages. This will enrich the local language further. The translations could also be done from the English versions.
  7. Produce research on translation per se and translation in the local language
  8. Evolve a textbook/coursebook for translation in the local language.
  9. Build/develop resources for translation. This could be dictionaries, thesaurus, grammar books, books on translation studies, primary texts for translation, in the form of printed texts, videos, digital material. You need not necessarily buy them. You could request for photocopies from different individual – a cost effective and quicker way to build resources.
  10. All the print publications should also be published simultaneously in the digital format on the centre’s website so that access to knowledge is made more democratic. It also ensures much wider reach. You could also publish them in scholarly databases such as Eprints
  11. You could also get scholars to research on local cultural, social, political issues,  biodiversity, folklore and publish them in both the local language and translation.
  12. There could be weekly two evening meetings. One, where people working with the centre present their work-in-progress and second, where invited speakers interact with the people at the centre on their on going research. The second category of people can be made to interact via skype or dimdim, which would take care of both financial constraints, logistic problems as well as give access to wider range of scholars.
  13. You could have discussions with  Tejaswini Nirajana at the Centre for the Study of Culture and Society, Bangalore, who are also working in the area of translation to address the major issue of language divide in the context of higher education in India. They have come up with some fascinating insights on the translation scene, which would be beneficial to as well. 

More important than all the above….
One, translation projects of this nature can easily become tools of ulterior political agendas. For the example, the present centre can become a tool to subordinate regionalism to lager nation agendas of the state. While on the one hand it can be seen as a positive move, what one needs to be careful is the nature of such integration. In the process it should not be a situation where the national language, dominant cultures and religious outlooks are thrust on the region.

Two, translations in India have been largely thought of as literary translations. It is important to break that mode of approach. People who have tried to break that have landed into another trap, i.e., asking literary scholars to translate works in sociology, political theory and so on. Such practices have rendered translations highly unintelligible to the target audience.

A third issue is much more nuanced. Most translations in India have, easily and unintentionally, become Sanskritic. As a result, they sound very different to the general speakers of the language who are unable to connect to the text. Greater care needs to be taken of this aspect.

Four, the centre might do more productive work if it does not limit itself to Nepali. Instead, if it is able to simultaneously address the divides and histories of the indigenous tribes and take a more sensitive and nuances stand, it might preserve much more than breed more mono-cultural living and understanding at the cost of smaller and less politically visible communities. Taking into consideration the multi-lingual environment of Nepali, Tibetan, English, Hindi, and Bengali and also the contesting, dominating relationships between them would be more historically and ethically interventionist rather than trusting a single understanding into the programmes of the centre.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

'Aesthetics and Politics' /Fredric Jameson/ MA Previous

Aesthetics and Politics By Fredric Jameson

Triveni Vaikhom

1.Discuss Lukacs view of relationship of art and ideology and Brecht's idea between art and realism.

2.How does Adorno adopt Lukacs' and Brechts' philosophy in Marxism?


Do you agree that aesthetics and politics are compatible with each other.Discuss your answer with reference to Lukacs and Brechts debate?




The definition of autonomy underlie the concepts: the autonomy concept of l’art pour l’art and the autonomy concept of a positivist sociology that sees autonomy as the merely subjective idea of the product of art.

Autonomy of art can be defined as the art’s independence from society. This definition involuntarily adopting the l’art pour l’art concept of art and simultaneously making it impossible to explain this apartness as a product of historical and social development. On the other hand the definition puts forward the view that art’s independence from society exist only in the artist’s imagination and tells nothing about the status of works. Both these approaches miss the complexity of autonomy whose characteristic describes something real but simultaneously expresses this real phenomena in the concept that block recognition of the social determinacy of the process. Thus autonomy of art can be defined as a category of bourgeois society that both reveals and obscures an actual historical development.

B.Hinz traces the history of the genesis of the idea of the autonomy of art . During the phase of historical separation of the producer from his means of production , the artist remained as the only one whom the division of labor had passed by. The reason is that his product could acquire importance as something special “autonomous”. Artist’s studios were still places of handicraft in the fifteenth century . According to Hauser, the social status of the artist changed around the beginning of sixteenth century because of the new seigneuries and principalities, and wealthy cities which became the sources of an ever increasing demand for qualified artists , who were capable of taking on and executing important orders.

Houser also speaks of art market s, which are growing number of important commissions. This resulted in a loosening of the guild ties of the artists. The development of art market furnishes a kind of fact from which it is difficult to infer anything about the developing autonomy of aesthetics. The process of growth of social sphere that we call art, which extended over centuries and was fitful because it was inhibited time and again by counter movements, can hardly be derived from any single caus.


The modern concept of art as an umbrella term for all the aesthetic activities came into being by the end of eighteenth century. This concept of art came into being with the constitution of aesthetics as an autonomous sphere of philosophical knowledge.

Kant’s Critique of judgment (1790) is an aesthetic judgment that laid the foundations for modern aesthetics. Subjective aspect of the detachments of art from the practical concern of life is reflected in this work. According to this the judgment of taste is determined by the delight, which is independent of all interests. Where interest is determined by the ‘reference to the faculty of desires’.

In Kant’s argument Bourgeois is the demand that the aesthetic judgment have universal validity. The pathos of universality is characteristic of bourgeois society , which fights the feudal nobility as an estate that represents particular interests. For Kant the universality of the aesthetic judgment is grounded in the agreement of an idea with the subjective conditions of the use of judgment that applies to all, in the agreement of imagination and understanding. Kant declares aesthetic as independent of sensual, moral and theoretical sphere.

In Kant’s philosophical system the central place is occupied by judgment. Judgment has the task of mediating between the theoretical knowledge and practical knowledge. According to Kant aesthetic is a position between sensuousness and reason. The judgment of taste is defined as the free and disinterested.

According to Schiller the development of civilization has destroyed the unity of senses and reason. Schiller never interprets the results of hid analysis anthropologically. According to him the class society cannot be abolished by a political revolution. Because the revolution can be carried out only by those men who, having been stamped by a society where the division of labor prevails, have for the reason been unable to develop their humanity.

Art according to Schiller is suited to restore man’s wholeness. He seeks to find liberation from the spell of sensuousness through the experience of the beautiful. Schiller assigns the central social function to art as it is removed from all the contexts of practical life.

Autonomy of art is a category of bourgeois society that permits art’s detachments from context of practical life as a historical development. Detachment of art from the practical context is a historical process, that is art is socially conditioned. The category autonomy does not permit the understanding of its referent as the one that developed historically. The relative dissociation of the work of art from the praxis of life in bourgeois society thus became transformed into the idea that the work of art is totally independent of society. Autonomy is thus an ideological category that joins the element of truth( the apartness of art from the praxis of life) and an element of untruth (the hypostatization of this fact , which is the result of historical development as the essence of art) .


The classification of art based on its purpose/ function , production and reception is given below;

Sacral Art Courtly Art Bourgeois Art
PURPOSE Cult object Representational object Portrayal of Bourgeois self- understanding
PRODUCTION Collective craft Individual Individual
RECEPTION Collective(sacral) Collective(sociable) Individual

Sacral art is wholly integrated into the social institution ,’religion”. It is part of the praxis of faithful.

Courtly art serves the glory of prince and self portrayal of courtly society. Thus it is the part of the life praxis of the courtly society.

Bourgeois art is the objectification of the self understanding of the bourgeois class. It is not tied to the praxis of life. Here one can unfold the abundance of talents. Thus the separation of art from the praxis of life becomes the decisive characteristic of the autonomy of bourgeois art.

European avant-garde movements are the attacks on the status of art in Bourgeois society. Avant garde negated the concept of art as an institution, which is unassociated with the praxis of men. They didn’t negate the earlier form of art and its style. They demanded art to be practical but do not mean that the contains should be socially significant.

Aestheticism had made the element that defines art as an institution, as the essential content of works. So Avant- gardists view the dissociation of art from the praxis of life as the dominant characteristic of art in bourgeois society.

Avant Gardistes proposed the sublation of art, the essential element of aestheticism: art was not to be simply destroyed but transferred to the praxis of life where it would be preserved although in a changed form. The art, the contents of whose individual works is wholly distinct from the (bad)praxis of the existing society can be the centre and starting point for the organisation of a new praxis of life.

Art has a contradictory role in bourgeois society. It projects the image of a better order and to that extent protests against the bad order that prevails. By realizing the image of a better order, it relieves the existing society of the pressure of those forces that make for change.

Historical Avant-garde movements negate those determinations that are essential in autonomous art:

  1. The disjunction of art and praxis of life
  2. Individual production and
  3. Individual reception.

The Avant- garde intents the abolition of autonomous art by which it means that art is to be integrated into the praxis of life.

A literature whose primary aim is to impose a particular kind of consumer behavior on the reader is in fact practical, though not in the sense the avan- gardistes intended.


  1. Compare and contrast between Kant’s and schiller’s idea on aestheticism.
  2. Define the concept of autonomy of art and trace the history and development of the concept.
  3. Is autonomy of art reveals and obscures the actual historical era?

Arya Augustine


Postmodernism and Politics of Style by Dick Hebdige/ MA Previous

Sebin Justine



MEL 132

Western Aesthetics

July 15, 2010

Essay Mapping

Postmodernism and Politics of Style by Dick Hebdige

In this essay Dick Hebdige discusses on post modernism. He also discusses how it became useful to world. He begins the essay by giving an introduction to postmodernism

Definition and introduction of postmodernism is discussed in this paragraph.

Postmodernism is-space- condition-predicament-an aporia- unpassablepath-where competing intentions- definition- diverse- social-intellectual tendencies-lines of force coverage-clash.When-people-discribe-postmodern as- décor of room-design of building-diegesis of the film-construction of a record- television commercial - an arts documentary- layout of page in fashion magazine or critical journal- anti teleological tendency with epistemology- attack on metaphysical presence- general attenuation of feeling- collective chargin –group of rhetorical troupes – a proliferation of surfaces- new phase in commodity fetishism-facination for images-codes and style- process of cultural- political or existential fragmentation-decentring of subject—collapse of cultural hierarchies- decline of university-functioning of new miniaturized technologies-broad societal and economic shift into media- then –is clear –we- presence –of buzzword.

This paragraph discusses how peoples view on postmodernism

Viewed Benigly-degree – semantic complexity-surrounding-postmodernism-signal- that- number of people-with-interests-opinion –feel- that- something-important-stake –worth-struggling-arguing. Substantiative appeal of -debates – consist- degree-of contemporary crisis-directly-confronted-articulated-grappled with.Uneasiness- which – concern-rapidity and glee-which-intellectuals-intent-abandoning earlier positions-staked out-in- pre-post-erous ground- older-critical debates-predominates-uneasiness-which-underpinned-this case-by-squarer-puritival -aversion-decadence-fatalism.

The paragraph describes various definition of postmodernism

Postmodernism-resembles-modernism-that-it-need-to be thought-plural. Different –writers-define-differently-but- writer- can talk- different time-about-differnent post. Jean Francois Lyotard-used-term-to three sepratetendencies. 1) trend-within-architecture-away-from-Modern Movement’s project-of a last rebuilding- whole space-occupied-humanity. 2) decay-confidence- in –idea –of- progress and modernization. 3) recognition-no longer-employ-metaphor-of-avant-garde- as if- modern artist- soldiers- fighting-borders of knowledge. There is- postmodernism-as –descriptive category- liternature and visual arts-postmodernism- used-refer-a tendency- towards-stylistic pluralism, crisis- avant-garde-as idea and as institution- the blurring on-allegedly unparalleled scale-categories of high and low forms, idioms and contents. There-attempts-discribe-postmodern-emergent cultures and subcultures associated- the new userfriendly- communication technologies . There- much talk-bricolage, creative consumption, the decentring and de professionalization- knowledge- technical expertise, the production – meaning in use. There – talk too- general breakdown – social and cultural distinctions: an end- to- outmoded fantasy- the masses and- corollary in – market but also –historically grounded communities of – industrial period: end – existing subjectivities, existing collectivities. These fragmentations- sometimes linked- erosion – boundaries between – production and consumption, between different media and- incommensurable times and unsynchronized rhythms- different process, experiences, actions. Sometime- it – suggested- together- blurrings and mergers- led to collapse- hierarchies- kept apart the competing definition of culture- high culture, low culture, mass culture, popular culture, culture as- whole way of life- such a way- these categories- their contents- no longer-regarded –separate, distinct and vertically ranked.

Distinguishing between neo-consrvative-anti-modernist and critical post modernism is discussed.

Hal Foster- distinguishes between- neoconservative-antimodernist-critical postmodernism-and points out-some- critics – practioners seek- extend-revitalize-modernist project-others condemn-modernist objectives- and sets out-remedy- effects-of modernism-while- others-working in- spirit of ludic-critical pluralism – endeavor –open up- new spaces. In –latter-critical alternative-postmodernism-defined- positive critical advance-fractures through negotiation-1) petrifiedhegemony of- corpus of radical aesthetic stratergies – proscriptions and –pre-Freudian-subject-formed-hub of- progressive wheel of modernization-functioned in-modern period as-regulated focus for- range of- disciplinary scientific, literarary,legal and burocratic discourse. Critical postmodernist –to challenge-validity-unilinear version-artistic and economic –technological development- to concentrate instead on what gets left out-marginalized, repressed or buried underneath that term. Modernism –discarded by- postmodernist –a eurocentric and phallocentric category- involves- systematic preference for certain forms and voice of others. What is recommended- its place- inversion- modernist hierarchy- a hierarchy- since its inception- eighteenth, nineteenth and early twentieth centuries- places- metropolitan center- over underdeveloped periphery. Western arts form- Third World – men’s art over womens art, in less anatomical terms – masculine or masculinist forms, institutions and practices over feminine, feminist of femineist ones. Here –word –postmodernist-used to cover-stratergies-setout –dismantle – power- the white.

Diagnoses of the post modernism is discussed in this paragraph

Diagnoses-postmodern condition cluster round- threat or promise- various kinds of merger. A number-immanent mergers –identified: coming together-different literary,televisual, musical style and genres, mergers of subjects and objects. This tendency –at one level- signaled-much vaunted contemporary preference - art, literature, film, television and popular music for parody, stimulation and allegory- the figures –risen like-ghosts from – grave of- fatally afflicated author. Shift towards- tropes- rooted-deconstructionism, in the abandonment-of pursuit – orgins- and –poststructuralist-attacks-metaphysics of presence.

Postmodernism in architecture

Postmodernism in architecture-identified with-end of European modernist hegemony-imposed with growing conviction- on global scale from 1920’s onwards- known- as international style. Reaction –against- International Style architecture-pioneered- in Britain- people like- Edward Lutyens- a whole generation- has been taken it. Modernism in architecture – identified with- more or less intentional destruction of – coordinates through- communities orient themselves-space and time : the destruction- of historyas- lived dimension- of neighbourhood as- socially inhabited space. Architecture is- independent and isolable field- but- less are-definite links-made with-postmodernism. It is – shrinkage in the aspiration of- intellectual practioner himself -links- architecture of post- to its artistic, critical and philosophical.

The given paragraph gives a greater view of postmodernism.

Word –postmodernism- announces- at very least- certain degree of skepticism- concerning-transformative and critical-power of art, aesthetics, knowledge. It announces- end- simple faith-what sometimes- called ‘grand metanarratives’-the great stories- for thousands of years- cultures of west- telling themselves-to keep-dread prospect of otherness at bay. Poststructuralism marks- decline- great stories of west- which has told itself- inorder to sustain itself- against rest, in order- place itself- Master and Hero – world. These stories- functioned in past- as forms of- reassurance- first stories- which John Berger talks about. Berger – imagines – first men- crouching round their fires- night telling stories. Each story- represents- ring of fire- light lit to pierce-darkness. To chase – darkness forever. And today we- crouching on our haunches- centered around-dying embers of many great stories- many heroic, epic master-narratives-stories which have lost- lusture and light, their power and plausibility- today we may- live without- solace and their comfort. If postmodernism means- end to belief- coherence and continuity as givens-end to- metaphysic of narrative closure, postmodernism mean- what Paul Virilio calls- the triumph of the art of the fragment: a loss- totality, necessary and therapeutic loss of wholeness. It may mean- substituting- history without guarantees for-older models- of mechanical and necessary progress. But if this –sounds –grandiouse and pretentious – and far too close- to modernist project- claim to displace- we – cut postmodernism down to size- reducing its terms of reference.

The given paragraph deals with the uses of postmodernism

Postmodernism –used loosely- to designate- range of symptoms which announce- break with- traditional cultural and aesthetic forms and experiences: break, for instance- traditional notions of authorship – originality. Postmodernism – used - shorthand term- reference certain qualities and tendencies- characterize- contemporary metropolitan milieu: growing- public familiarity with formal- representational codes- a profusion of consumption lifestyle, cultures, subcultures, a generalized sensitivity to style- and to difference: etnic, gender, regional and local difference. Some – artist and critics- denounces postmodernism- a flatulent retreat from- responsibility of – artist to bear- critical witness- times- which we live. Others stress- extend –which- sacerdotal postures and duties of- artist themselves- questioned and dismantled insofar- they serve to amplify- duplicate- voice of the father. There –many- good thing- found- ruins -in the collapse- older explanatory system.

Paragraph here deals with idle consumer.

The idle consumer- of- late 1980s – a bundle of contradictions: monstrous, brindled, hybrid. The idle consumer- deducted from – contemporary advertisement- not he or she – but it. The idle consumer- not- the idle productive worker-of an earlier epoch- a sexually repressed nobody, alienated from- sensual pleasure, subjected to- turgid life-denying disciplines of- working week and nuclear family. Instead idle consumer – it: enemy of personal pronouns- is a complete social and- psychological mess. Idle consumer- extrapolated from- barrage – contradictory interpellations- advertising billboards-magazine spreads- television commercial- is conflicting drives, desires, fantacies,appetites.


We – lost – Big Theories- Big Stories but post modernism- helped- rediscover- power- that resides- little things- disregarded detail- in aphorism- in metaphor- allusion- images and image stream.


Hebdige, Dick. Postmodernism and Politics of Style. Art in Modern Culture: An Anthology of

Critical Texts. Eds: Franscina, Francis and Jonathan Harris. London New York: Phaidon,

1992. Print.

Serge Guilbault: The New Adventures of the Avant- Garde in America / MA Previous

                    CIA II

                    MEL 132

Western Aesthetics:

Twentieth Century

                    MA English

Essay Mapping

Serge Guilbault: The New Adventures of the Avant- Garde in America

AVANT GARDE: A prominent feature of modernism is the phenomenon called avant-garde that is a small self conscious group of artist and authors who deliberately undertake, in Ezra Pound’s phrase, to “make it new”. By violating the accepted conventions and proprieties forms and styles and to introduce hitherto neglected, and sometimes forbidden subject matter. Frequently avant garde artist represent themselves as “alienated” from the established order, against which they assert their own autonomy.

Paragraph 1 Revitalisation of Avant garde

Avant garde-revitalized-US after II world war Economic boom-strategies familiar to - jaded Parisian-deployed- confronted- in new bourgeois public.

Paragraph 2 Greenberg’s Formalist Theory

Between-1939 and 1948- Clement Greenberg's- formalist theory of modern art o juxtapose- avant garde- to create a structure- Baudelaire or Apollinaire- dominant role in international scene.

Paragraph 3 Development of Greenbergian formalism Greenbergian formalism- flexible as it began during and after was- later solidify into dogma. Its relation ship- (from writings & ideologies) to marxist movement- to the crisis- finally to disintegration of marxism.1940- visible- ideologies and writings Grrenbergian formalism- born- Stalinist- Trotskyite ideological battles- disillusionment of American left and de - marxification of New York.

Paragraph 4 Alliance the stage for revolution

De-marxification began 1937- intellectuals confronted- the political and aesthetic option became Trotskyites. Greenberg- allied- Dwight Mac Donald and Partisan review- in Trotskyite period- located- origin of American Avan-garde. Trotskyite context- some day- till how- anti stalinism- started as Trotskyism- turned into art for arts sake. American communist party’s alliance- liberalism- responsible for- depression- revolution.

Paragraph 5 Work of art historian Meyer Schapiro

Art historian- Meyer Schapiro shift 1937- abandoned- rhetoric- popular Front - revolutionary language- article social basis of Art- emphasized- alliance between artist and the proletariat. His article- " Nature of Abstract art'- important for - refutation- of Alfred's Barr’s formalist- essay- cubism and Abstract art- displacement of Ideology enable left to accept artistic experimentation

Paragraph 6 Schepario’s notion of abstract art

In 1936 - Schepario- guaranteed artist place- 1937-' Nature of Abstract art'- pessimistic. for him - abstract art- Alfred Barr & other- segregated- art from social reality- had roots in production- abstract art- don’t understand- precariousness of position- grasp implications if what he is doing. By attacking the art- destroying illusion of artist independence- insist relationship link art with society- That produces it.

Paragraph 7 How avant garde abstact art helped the artists

Schopiro- too edged sword- destroyed Alfred Barr's illusion of independence- shattered abstract art as an ivory tower- isolated from society. Leftist painters founded- negative ideological formulation- provided by abstract art as a positive force-Easy for communist- reject- the art cut off reality- reached to conflicts- can use- abstract language- express- social consciousness. This opening - developed- avant garde abstract art. His article- allowed - evaluated- abstraction. For American painters- article- deliverance- conferred prestige on author.

Paragraph 8 Avant garde preserver of culture

Partisan review- letter Tortsky- analyzed catastrophic portion of the American artist. Tortsky and Briton's & Greenberg- analysis- blamed- cultural crisis- decadence of aristocracy- bourgeois. Tortsky artist - free of - partisanship- not politics. Greenberg- abandoned- critical position- Tortsky eclectic action- favoured – modernist avant garde. Greenberg -artistic avant garde - preserve- quality of culture- against influence of Kitsch. Death of bourgeois culture- replaced - proletarian- destroyed by- communist alliance with popular front- So formation of avant garde- important. Failure- communist party - incompetence of Troskytes- artists need- realistic , non revolutionary solution. Green berg- allowed – defence of qualiy- avant garde.

paragraph 9 Growth of avant garde

Greenberg- believed- threat culture- academic immobility- that period- Kritsch for propaganda. Avant garde- it was innocent- less absorbed. Seemed unrealistic- attempt- simultaneously both political and cultural front in the back ground- second world war.

Paragraph 10 Formation of intellectual elites

Avant garde and Kitsch- important- demarxification- American intelligentia- Around 1936 Partisan review- emphasized- importance of intellectual of working class- formed - international intellectual elite- became oblivious politics.

Paragraph 11 Greenberg theory of modern elitist

Art and politics- Trotsky, Briton & Schapiro- preserved - in writing - absent in Greeenbergs. Preserving- analytical procedures- Marxist vocabulary- Greenberg established - theoretical basis- elitist modernism

Paragraph 12 Greenberg’s appeal to socialism to save culture

Avant garde and Kitsch- formalized defined- rationalized- intellectual position- failed by many others. Article- new hope . Using Kitsch- target , a symbol- totatilarian authority- to which allied and exploited - Greenberg- made- artists to act . Greenberg position- rooted- Trotskyism- withdrawal- during depression- he appealed - socialism- death of tradition. Today Socialism - presentation - living culture. Greenberg's article- marked beginning- American pictorial renaissance.

Paragraph 13 The alliance made splits

Avant garde and Kitsch- coincided- two events- integrity of soviet union- German- soviet alliance- invasion of Finland by Soviet union- took radial shift- Greenberg’s literary friends and contributors to partisan review. After they- return. The optimism - maintained- evaporated-Soviet. Meyer Schapiro and thirty artist coleagues - liked to- Stalinism- social aesthetic of popular Front

Paragraph 14 Changing of the positions of the artists

Federation -American painters and was born - non political association- played important role- creation of avant garde after was. Many first generation painters Gottlieb, Rothko, Pousette -Dart) Disillusion in 1939- rise in fortunes of Popular Front- after German attack Russia- no central concern for articles as in past. Private sectors re- emerged - long years of depression- artists un happy- public convinced & valued their work after 1940- artist employed - idiom- roots - embedded in social appearance. The artist - central for public - but object changed. Instead of social programmes - They elite through universal.

Paragraph 15 Internationalism of America boon to the Artist

1943- from isolationism to - internationalism- the years best seller-one world by Wendel Wickie. Internationalism- bought- optimism. Artists of avant garde - organized exhibition- rejected work.Rejection of politics- had re assimilated by propagandistic art- realization of modernism. Internationalism aligned new man -preserve image of avant garde.

Paragraph 16 Rising postion of avant garde

Rejection of politics-had reassimilated –by prpagandic art-realization of modernism. Internationalism aaligned new man –preserve image of avant garde.

Paragraph 17 Need for art gallery

US from war- victorious, confident - Public infatuation- increased- influence of media- Need- new national art & network of galleries - promote & profit new awareness. 1943 Marh mortomes Bran_ Gallery - opened a wing - experimental art by Betty Parsons- Satisfy market's demand for modernity. Sam Koots- Charles Egan opened galleries for modern art.

Paragraph 18 Effect of war

The optimism art- Contrasted- Left identifying itself emerged from the war. Middle class worked- safe guard privileges it had won economic boom. Dissidence-fade-among communist party left. Demarxification of extreme left- during war- turned into de politicization - when America and Soviet union became clear.

Paragraph 19 New academicism threat

De politicization - drifted intellectuals into isolation, powerless, refused to speak. Between 1946-48 - political discussions- Marshal plan , soviet threat & presidential election - Henry Wallace & Communists played important part to humanist - abstract art- art of Paris - all galleries Greenberg considered - academism- serious threats.

Paragraph 20 Differentiation of American art

American society needed - infusion of new life- not pessimism and academism. Greenberg formulated- a critical system based on characteristic in defined American in his weekly articles the Nation- differentiated between American and French art. This system - modern American art- infused new life- could not apply- pale imitation of school of Paris- turned out by American Abstract artist. Greenberg’s – first differentiation - In article Pollock and Dabuffet.

Paragraph 21 Quality of American art

Greenberg emphasized- vitality , virility and brutality- American artists. His idea - transfer American art- from provincialism to internationalism- replacing the Parisian standards - grace craft, finish- to American as violence , spontaneity , in completeness , brutality , vulgarity life demanded- American art trustee of it.

Paragraph 22 Greenberg's opinion on American art

Greenberg stated - American art- ought to be urban , casual and detached - to have control and composure . Fault of American art - restrain form articulating - message describing, speaking , telling story etc.

Paragraph 23 Detachment of modern art from ivory towers

Greenberg's - painting important - return to ivory tower. Which previous decade- destroyed . The position of detachment - from critical works- artists fear participating - in virulent political propaganda. The interpretation he gave- for modernist detachment . The Rokho and Still - concern - save pictorial message

paragraph24 Rotkho's fear of critics

Rotkho - tried to purge art - convey precise image - fear of assimilate by society . He afraid - critics - obliterate - is abstract forms. Wrote- letter- to Betty Persons - Not to show - his painting to critics .

Partagraph 25 Problems in expression of art

Work of many avant garde artists- became a kind of unwriting , art of effacement , discourse- articulation - negate itself be re absorbed. Dwight Mc Donald - impossibility of expressions- Modern age silence of avant garde .

Paragraph 26 Difficulties of modern artist after nuclear destruction

Nuclear destruction - obscene- modern artists- had two- dangers - 1. assimilation of message by political propaganda .2.Representation of world beyond reach .Abstraction , individualism and originality - best weapons - against society.

Paragraph 27 Greenberg fight against removal of parisan cubism

In 1948- no work shown- Greenberg announced - in article. The decline of cubism in partisan renew - American art- broken- with Paris- vital of western culture. This declined Parisian cubism.

Paragraph 28 Protection of western art

The third world war threat- discussed - in press -idea that Europe- France and Italy- Topple into Soviet camp. Question of what - Become - of western civilization . Greenberg's article rescued - the cultural future of west.

Paragraph 29 How the art came to the Americans side

Many struggles -success the Parisian avant gard- survived. Virility -of an art - like Pullock revitalize modern culture- represented by Paris . Dealing- abstract expressionist art - brought international to America.

Paragraph 30 Placement of US as supreme in all fields

Critic- been aggressive devoted – defy supremacy of parisian art- replace it - on international scale - with a rt of Pollock and New York school. Greenberg - dispensed parisan avant gard- place New York school at the centre of world culture. US- winning all cards - atomic bomb a powerful economy, strong army - least cultural superiority missing .

Paragraph 31 Individualism basis of American art

Victorious liberalism- refashioned but Schleisgner -barricaded - anti communism centered - notion of freedom ,. Individualism - basis of all American art - represent new era - confident and un easy at that time. Artisitic freedom - central to abstract - expressionist art.

Paragraph 32 Honocourts paper on Individuality

Rene de Harnocourt- presented- paper explored - notion of individuality . Freedom of individual expression - basis of their culture - deserved protection - encouragement - confronted with cultures.

Paragraph 33 Ideology of avant garde aligned with liberalism

The ideology of avant garde - aligned - post war liberalism . New liberalism- identified - because values represented - cherished - during cold war. In modern work - brutality- stifles individual- artist become a rampart example of will- against - uniformity of totalitarian society .Juxtaposition - political and artistic images - possible - both consciously or unconsciously - repressed aspects- of ideology.

Paragraph 34 Avant Garde unique position

Society -height centre position as united states- intellectual repression was strong. Abastract expression - freedom to create controversial works- freedom of action and gesture. Liberty defended - by moderns - the conservatives . Present internal struggle - to those outside -proof - inherent liberty of the American system . Freedom - symbol promoted- cold war.

Paragraph 35 Expressionism aspect of liberal society

Expressionism -difference between a free society and totalitatrianism . Represent essential aspects - of liberal society- aggressiveness and ability -generate controversy in final analysis.

Paragraph 36 Pollocks paintings

Pollock drip painting- both left, right and middle - revitalized - new liberalism. Pollock - had a school developed - became catalyst - as Kooning says broke the ice.

wanted Paragraph 37 Modern American artists to avoid Modern - the image statement . Wanted to express - attempt to erase - void the readable - censure himself . He rejected two thing s- aesthetic of popular front and the traditional American aesthetics - reflected isolation of an earlier Greenberg - elevated - art of avant garde- international importance - but integrated into imperialist machine - museum of modern art.

Paragraph 38 Avant garde- theoretically - opposition to Truman administration - aligned - with majority . Geenberg - followed - with others and was its catalyst . analysing political aspects of american art- defined ideological , formal vantage point - avant garde- would have to intend to survive - ascending of new american middle class. To do so - first generation artists - defended against sterirlity of american abstract act- emotional contents , social commentary. Discourse the avant garde artists in - intend in their works -Meyer Schapiro articulated .

39. Rebellion against - political exploitation - stubborn determination - to save western culture - americanizing - killing father Paris- topple into disgrade aims of mother country.


Guilbault, Serge. The New Adventures of the Avant- garde in America.

Abrams, M.H. A Glossary of Literary Terms.

'The Museum of Modern Art: The Past’s Future'/ MA Previous



CIA 2 MEL 132: Western Aesthetics:

Twentieth Century Euro-American Art, Culture and Ideas

15th July 2010

The Museum of Modern Art: The Past’s Future

Between 1980 and 1984 the Museum of Modern Art was unimprovement and contraction. After a design developed by Cesar Pelli and dean of the Yale School of Architecture. MOMA doubled its exhibition space, added a glass-in atrium, upgraded its dining facilities, built a new theatre-lecture hall, and expanded its bookstore. To help finance the undertaking, the Museum, in an unprecedented move, sold air right to a developer who erected a 52-storey residential condominium tower over the Museum’ s new west wing. Initially critics feared the condominium tower would mar MOMA’s appearance; however, when the Museum reopened they were nearly unanimous in their praise of Pelli’s design. The renovation had resulted in the best of all possible new MOMAs. Critical thus added up to a collective sigh of relieve on MOMA had not been too radical after all. Instead of lamenting the lack of a fresh start or new direction, it tended to laud MOMA’s deepening attachment to tradition. Kramer, for example, noted in the course of an analysis that ‘the museum’s primary function to exhibition as extensively as possible and as intelligently as possible the masterworks from its own permanent collection, and he quoted with evident satisfaction the words of Alfred Barr, inscribed on a plaque newly installed at the entrance to the permanent collection of painting and painting and sculpture, concerning the Museum’s obligation to engage in the conscientious, continuous and resolute distinction of quality from mediocrity.

The term ‘museum’, as an encompassing signifier, ‘must be granted the flexibility of a cloth that can be gather here, stretched there to accommodate a form whose mutations are linked to the changing character of capital, the state and public culture’.

- There were two fundamental aspects of what might be called ‘museum perception’

1 The temporal relation between viewer and object in the sense of the viewer’s perception of the time of the object.

2 The related issue of MOMA’s representation of itself, in particular the way the Museum building has evolved or ‘mutated’ as a signifier of the modern.

MOMA’s history can be divided into three periods.

1 Utopia

2 Nostalgia

3 Forever Modern


Beginning with the Museum’s opening in 1929 and petering out in the late 1950s. During this period MOMA constituted its history of modernism.

- Drawing upon then current aesthetic discourse, it subjected a heterogeneous set of materials to the systematizing and taxonomical procedures that characterize the museum as a culture institution.

- The division and classification of materials according to media and their further classification by styles through the application of aesthetic criteria.

A study of MOMA during the 1930s would reveal a process of experimentation, of trial and error out of which there emerged a complex modernist aesthetic construct based on Bauhaus architecture and design.

Writing on the culture logic of late capitalism, Fredric Jameson has argued that an artist’s resistance to one manifestation of capital can lead to an art of compensation.

- A Utopian gesture, the artist, in Jameson’s words, ‘ends up producing a whole new Utopian realm of the senses’. This Utopian move, while it represents an imaginative escape from the oppressive conditions of the present, is also unavoidably grounded in those same conditions. What appears as an escape from a particular stage of capital of ten anticipates a later, more advanced stage. This Utopian reflex may also apply to aesthetic constructs. It takes no special insight to see the MOMA of the 1930s projecting a resolution to the contradictions of its particular historical moment, and this resolution being precisely in terms of capitalism’s next stage of development.

- The unprecedented corporate expansion and modernization, through the application of advanced technology, of post-Second World War America.

- MOMA was far from alone in its anticipations of corporate modernization. The New York World’s Fair of 1939, for example, represents a popular version of a similar Utopian projection.

The most revealing feature of MOMA’s Utopianism was the new museum building itself. Designed by Philip and opened in the spring of 1939.

- The building functioned, as a unifying element that diminished or obscured the heterogeneity of the collections and the diversity of experiences on offer.

- The building also proved to be MOMA’s most representative artifact, not something it had collected but something it had deliberately created the most potent signifier of its Utopian aspirations.

- The building, with its clear, simple lines and polish surfaces directly contrasted. This type of contrasted was crucial to MOMA’s developing aesthetic.

The Museum interior was turned into antiseptic, laboratory-like spaces-enclosed, isolated, artificially illuminated and apparently neutral environments in which viewers could study works of art displayed as so many isolated specimens. Much has been made of the ‘intimacy’ of these gallery spaces. This ‘intimacy’ also produced its own sense of distance. This technologies space, the work acquired its Utopian aura.


The 1950s, the beginning of the second phase of MOMA’s history, was the Museum’s moment of vindication. Bauhaus-style architecture, which the Museum assiduously promoted, became a ubiquitous signifier of corporate modernity. ‘American century’ proved to be no Utopia Bauhaus modernism became Bauhaus monotony. The ‘new American painting’ was transformed almost overnight into a modernist academy. The 1950s marked MOMA’s highpoint as an institution and the beginning of its transformation. Utopia projection was replace by nostalgia for an outmoded Utopia-or rather, for the time when belief in a Utopian future was still credible. This longing for the past’s Utopia came to dominate MOMA’s practice as an institution.

The history of the permanent collection underscores the retrospective mood that during the 1950s began to take hold. Although the Museum began to build a collection during its early years, its collecting policy was deliberately limited. In effect, the Museum attempted to overcome the contradiction inherent in the idea of a museum of modern art by deaccessioning or selling to other museum works in its collection that were more than fifty years old.

- In the 1950s MOMA abandoned its original policy and focused more of its efforts on building and exhibiting a permanent collection.

- In the 1953 it did away with the fifty-year rule.

- Three years later it officially declared its intention of exhibiting a ‘permanent collection of masterworks’.

This decision led directly to the expansion of the Goodwin-Stone building.

Johnson’s handling of the expansion provides further evidence of MOMA’s growing attachment to its own past.

- Tripartite design thus produced a set of meaning about MOMA’s historical situation and the significance of its collections that quite precisely anticipated but also helped to determine all that viewers would encounter in the Museum itself.

Forever Modern

MOMA’s choice of Cesar Pelli to carry out the 1980-4 renovation was far from fortuitous. In an interview given in 1981, just as work was getting underway, he acknowledged that his role was above all that of custodian of MOMA’s architectural heritage.

The Goodwin-Stone façade had been dwarfed by its neighbors on 53rd Street. It made a certain sense to preserve the façade or to create something on the same scale. The surrounding office buildings and especially the condominium tower, itself a part of the Museum’s fabric, intensified the contrast between past and present, between Utopian hopes frozen in the past, and the unfocused dynamism of the late-capitalist present.

Johnson’s 1964 renovation left the original lobby areas and the galleries on the second and third floors pretty much intact.

- Enlarge the lobby.

- Added his glasses-in atrium or garden hall.

Visitors to the post-Pelli MOMA pass from the street into the lobby and after paying admission proceed to the garden hall. Otherwise, having first entered the old Museum they then enter the Museum a second time, but this time it is in effect the new Museum they enter. Their progress through the building repeats this alternation between old and new, between the space of the present and the nostalgic space of MOMA’s past

MOMA’s garden hall or atrium is representative of an increasingly familiar from of public space, a space that is at once grandiose and overwhelming and yet barely legible.

The Museum’s exhibition spaces might be read as so many ‘inside’ to the atrium’s ‘outside’

- Inside and outside do not entirely fit the situation to cross the boundary from one to the other, to go.

Pelli’s design further distances MOMA’s past-a past that thus acquires an aura of unreality, a sense of being sealed-off as in a time capsule, since it is now experienced through the medium of the atrium’s present.


Wallach, Allan. “The Museum of Modern Art: The Part’s Future”. Art in Modern Culture:

An Anthology of Critical Texts. Eds. Franscina, Francis, and Jonathan Harris. London/

New York: Phaidon, 1992. Print.