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Download Beautiful Democracy: Aesthetics and Anarchy in a Global Era by Russ Castronovo PDF

By Russ Castronovo

The photographer and reformer Jacob Riis as soon as wrote, “I have noticeable an armful of daisies continue the peace of a block greater than a policeman and his club.” Riis used to be no longer on my own in his trust that attractiveness may well tame city chaos, yet are aesthetic reviews regularly a social strong? may perhaps aesthetics additionally motivate violent crime, working-class unrest, and racial homicide? to respond to those questions, Russ Castronovo turns to those that debated claims that paintings may perhaps democratize culture—civic reformers, anarchists, novelists, civil rights activists, and faculty professors—to display that good looks offers unforeseen events for radical, even progressive, political thinking.

Beautiful Democracy explores the intersection of attractiveness and violence via interpreting collage lectures and path fabrics on aesthetics from a century in the past besides riots, acts of family terrorism, magic lantern exhibitions, and different public spectacles. Philosophical aesthetics, realist novels, city images, and black periodicals, Castronovo argues, encouraged and instigated every type of collective social endeavors, from the revolutionary nature of tenement reform to the horrors of lynching. Discussing Jane Addams, W.E.B. Du Bois, Charlie Chaplin, William Dean Howells, and Riis as aesthetic theorists within the corporation of Kant and Schiller, Beautiful Democracy eventually means that the gap setting apart educational considering and well known knowledge approximately social transformation is narrower than we ordinarily suppose.

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Extra info for Beautiful Democracy: Aesthetics and Anarchy in a Global Era

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37 as a point of ethical intervention. Exactly what amounted to an ethical intervention was of course open to debate, not simply between theorists and activists but within each group itself. But on one question academics and reformers were united, perhaps because it spelled a problem that was at once theoretical and practical: what happens when flowers cannot be separated from police billy clubs, that is, when beauty cannot avert and even incites violence? beau t y a nd s ci ence The pleasures of collective association were not to be confused with lawlessness or anarchy.

8 When aesthetics are charged with bearing the burden of representing and cultivating the mass, the people, the proletariat, or any of the various collectivities implied by the looseness of democracy, art and beauty seem that much more rickety, that is, contingent. Can such a flimsy structure support the weight of community sense, to say nothing of the hefty ideal of universal accord? Perhaps it is only contemporary world-weariness that motivates such pessimism. By way of contrast, the answer from several quarters, including philosophy departments and ethnic slums of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, was a guarded “yes”: aesthetic theorists and 30 .

13 What was happening in the Psychology Laboratory filtered down to undergraduates taking basic courses in aesthetics. 14 For those who knew a lot about social reality but little of aesthetic pleasure, university extension courses sought to disseminate ethical lessons bound up with beauty. A Harvard pedigree was not a requirement for understanding something about sensation, perception, and judgment. At land-grant institutions, two-semester sequences in Aesthetics 101 were standard fare sophomore and junior years.

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