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Aestheticism in Victorian Britain: Art for Art's Sake Among the Pre-Raphaelites and the Wilde Circle
ENGL 261
Spring 2008
Section: 01  

This course focuses on two groups of artists and intellectuals whose ideas about art and society were deliberately and self-consciously dissident and experimental: the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, formed at Oxford in 1848 and active in London until the early 1870s, and the circle centered around Oscar Wilde in the 1890s. Why, we will ask, did these artists and intellectuals espouse a theory of art for art's sake, and what did they mean when they did so? What were the philosophical, political, and artistic reasons they heralded aestheticism as a theory and practice of art, and what formal innovations and conventions did that practice entail? We will examine a variety of literary and nonliterary texts, from poetry and novels to aesthetic theory and paintings. Issues to be addressed include theories of art for art's sake; experimental and avant-garde ideas and practices of art; the social and cultural space occupied by well-educated and often well-off artists - an "elite margin"; the interaction among various modes of artistic expression, most especially painting and poetry; the relation between high art and the aesthetic way of life that by turns embraced artisanal crafts, popular culture, industrial production, and the decorative arts; and the sexual, gender, class, and (inter-)national dynamics of artistic production and consumption during these years.

Essential Capabilities: None
Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: HA ENGL
Course Format: DiscussionGrading Mode: Graded
Level: UGRD Prerequisites: ENGL201
Fulfills a Major Requirement for: None
Past Enrollment Probability: Not Available

Last Updated on JUN-19-2024
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