Phantom Formations: Aesthetic Ideology and the Bildungsroman
Marc Redfield maintains that the literary genre of the Bildungsroman brings into sharp focus the contradictions of aesthetics, and also that aesthetics exemplifies what is called ideology. He combines a wide-ranging account of the history and theory of aesthetics with close readings of novels by Goethe, George Eliot, and Gustave Flaubert. For Redfield, these fictions of character formation demonstrate the paradoxical relation between aesthetics and literature: the notion of the Bildungsroman may be expanded to apply to any text that can be figured as a subject producing itself in history, which is to say any text whatsoever. At the same time, the category may be contracted to include only a handful of novels, (or even none at all), a paradox that has led critics to denigrate the Bildungsroman as a phantom genre. Redfield traces this paradox to its origins in the discourse of aesthetics. His analysis shows that rhetorical reading is cultural critique. Deconstruction is ultimately a critique of aesthetics, and aesthetic formulations continue to shape the discourses and practices of our cultural institutions. Phantom Formations addresses the problem of the Bildungsroman through a rigorous examination of aesthetic ideology which explains the hysteria provoked by literary theory, clarifies the link between aestheticism and technologism, and questions the aesthetic presuppositions of the pragmatist and neo-professionalist ideologies of the modern bureaucratic university.
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Aesthetic Education aesthetic ideology aesthetic judgment aestheticism allegory beautiful becomes Bildung Bildungsroman body Casaubon chapter character claim consciousness criticism Critique of Judgment culture Daniel Deronda deconstruction Derrida discourse dissection Dorothea Eliot's essay exemplary fetish fiction figure Flaubert formal Frederic Frederic's Freud Friedrich Friedrich Schiller Friedrich Schlegel gender genre George Eliot German gesture ghost Goethe Goethe's Handwerk Hegel Heidegger Hertz human idea ideal imagination irony irreducible Jacques Derrida Jean-Luc Nancy Kant Kant's L'Education sentimentale language linguistic literary absolute literature Madame Bovary meaning Middlemarch Mignon Mme Arnoux modern narrative nature notion novel object oedipal paradox Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe philosophy political pragmatic precisely predicament production puppets question reading referential representation rhetorical Schiller sense sentimental sexual story symbol sympathy taste techne telepathy text's theory thetic tion tradition trans trope University Press Wanderjahre Wilhelm Meisters Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre Wilhelm Meisters Wanderjahre words York
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