Art/Aesthetics · Book-Text-Read-Zines · Theory

Against the Sublime by James Elkins (2009, revised 2013)

This paper explores the uses of the sublime in recent art theory, philosophy, and literary criticism, focusing on Weiskel, Hertz, and Lyotard. I propose that the concept of the sublime, and the postmodern sublime in particular, are over-used tropes in critical writing. They sometimes serve a covert religious purpose, as a way of smuggling theological concepts into secular discourse; and they are stand-ins for notions of epistemological, linguistic, and psychological failures that do not require the specific discourse of the sublime.

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