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The interest in aesthetics in philosophy, literary and cultural studies is growing rapidly. This book contains exemplary essays by key practitioners in these fields which demonstrate the importance of this area of enquiry. New aestheticism remains a troubled term and in current parlance it already comes loaded with the baggage of the 'philistine controversy' which first emerged in an exchange that originally that took place in the New Left Review during the mid-1990s. A serious aesthetic education is necessary for resisting the advance of 'philistinism'. Contemporary aesthetic production may be decentred and belonging to the past, but that is not a reason to underestimate what great works do that nothing else can. Despite well-established feminist work in literary criticism, film theory and art history, feminist aesthetics 'is a relatively young discipline, dating from the early 1990s'. The book focuses on the critical interrogation of the historical status of mimesis in the context of a gendered and racial politics of modernity. Throughout the history of literary and art criticism the focus has fallen on the creation or reception of works and texts. The book also identifies a fragmentary Romantic residue in contemporary aesthetics. The Alexandrian aesthetic underlies the experience of the 'allegorical'. 'Cultural poetics' makes clear the expansion of 'poetics' into a domain that is no longer strictly associated with 'poetry'. The book also presents an account of a Kantian aesthetic criticism, discussing Critique of Pure Reason, Critique of Aesthetic Judgement and Critique of Judgement.

through the twin historicisms of cultural materialism and cultural poetics (or ‘new historicism’).2 The periodising title early modern is part of a movement away from notions such as ‘the English Renaissance’ or from ‘the Tudor period’, although such names are retained by some of historicism’s adherents.3 That the emergence of the phrase ‘early modern’ seems to mark a strategic attempt to delineate what otherwise appears to be a depressingly familiar ramification of what I suppose we must now term ‘old’ historicism doesn’t diminish its institutional effectivity.4 One

in The new aestheticism
Crossing the (English) language barrier

and Irishness. It upsets poetic canons in two countries at once. (1988: 18) Longley’s call for a transgressive cultural poetics is salutary: ‘In tandem with the inter-disciplinary and the inter-national, we need the inter-sectarian, and the cross-border’ (1988: 22). Comparing Scottish and (Northern) Irish poetry should prove productive, though the differences may turn out to be as significant as the similarities. Provincialism persists in Ireland, not least of all in the so-called ‘Province’. In 1998 I asked Seamus Deane why he had not chosen to write his novel

in Across the margins