Aug 18 2017

Robert Appelbaum on Violence

Appelbaum violence (2)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Aesthetics of Violence:

Art, Fiction, Drama and Film

By Robert Appelbaum

Futures of the Archive: Theory, Criticism, Crisis

Publication Date: Dec 2017

Violence at an aesthetic remove from the spectator or reader has been a key element of narrative and visual arts since Greek antiquity. Here Robert Appelbaum explores the nature of mimesis, aggression, the affects of antagonism and victimization and the political uses of art throughout history. He examines how violence in art is formed, contextualised and used by its audiences and readers. Bringing traditional German aesthetic and social theory to bear on the modern problem of violence in art, Appelbaum engages theorists including Kant, Schiller, Hegel, Adorno and Gadamer. The book takes the reader from Homer and Shakespeare to slasher films and performance art, showing how violence becomes at once a language, a motive, and an idea in the experience of art. It addresses the controversies head on, taking a nuanced view of the subject, understanding that art can damage as well as redeem. But it concludes by showing that violence (in the real world) is a necessary condition of art (in the world of mimetic play).

We are always, writes Appelbaum, “being made to know of it – the slap, the abuse, the threat.” And Applebaum certainly knows of it – violence, that is. He knows of it, above all, as art knows of it – that is to say, from the inside of it. The very ‘rhythm of violence,’ as Appelbaum calls it, can here be felt.

John Schad, Professor of Modern Literature, University of Lancaster

Robert Appelbaum is Professor of English Literature at Uppsala University, Sweden. He is the author of Literature and Utopian Politics in Seventeenth-Century England (2002), Dishing It Out (2011), Working the Aisles: A Life in Consumption (2014) and Terrorism Before the Letter: the Mythography of Political Violence in England, Scotland and France (2015).