Taste, beauty, sublime: Kantian aesthetics and the experience of performance

Westerside, Andrew (2010) Taste, beauty, sublime: Kantian aesthetics and the experience of performance. PhD thesis, Lancaster University.

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Abstract

What does it mean to have aesthetic experience? Is it something we are all capable of? Or is our capacity for aesthetic pleasure something we develop, like a skill? What do we mean when we declare something ‘beautiful’, or when we
dismiss a performance because it is ‘not to our taste’? Is taste something we possess, concerned with our own personal likes and dislikes? Or is taste part of aesthetic experience, something that happens? Indeed, what is aesthetic experience? And what is the place, in theatre and performance, for the aesthetic qua aesthetic?

In this thesis I explore and develop the Kantian notion of aesthetic experience by taking three terms central to the Critique of Judgment – taste, beauty, sublime – and considering their value in the experience and analysis of contemporary performance.

In exploring these ideas, the thesis centres on a range of works from the early avant-garde, including extended analyses of Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi (1896) and Edward Gordon Craig’s Dido and Æneas. The contemporary works central to the thesis are Proto-type Theater’s Virtuoso (working title) (2009), 3rd Person (redux)(2010) and Whisper (2008). The study also looks at contemporary work from Reckless Sleepers, Station House Opera, and Societas Raffaello Sanzio.

The primary theoretical framework is drawn from the field of philosophical aesthetics, and, specifically, the works of Immanuel Kant. In the post-Kantian era, the works of Arthur Schopenhauer, Martin Heidegger, Hans-Georg Gadamer,
Wendy Steiner, Jean-Luc Marion, Arnold Berleant, and Christian H. Wenzel provide a connection to the world of post-Enlightenment aesthetics and interconnect Kantian philosophy with developments in performance and aesthetics.

In aiming to uncover the value of the aesthetic as such, the thesis looks to reflect on taste, beauty, and the sublime in a way that offers a fresh and vital perspective on the experience of performance.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Keywords:Theatre, Performance, Aesthetics, Composition
Subjects:W Creative Arts and Design > W440 Theatre studies
Divisions:College of Arts > Lincoln School of Performing Arts
ID Code:5757
Deposited By: Andrew Westerside
Deposited On:01 Jun 2012 08:58
Last Modified:16 Apr 2014 08:23

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