The Sense of Semblance Philosophical Analyses of Holocaust Art

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 1/9/2013
  • Publisher: Fordham University Press
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Holocaust artworks intuitively must fulfill at least two criteria: artistic (lest they be merely historical documents) and historical (lest they distort the Holocaust or become merely artworks). The Sense of Semblance locates this problematic within philosophical aesthetics, as a version ofthe conflict between aesthetic autonomy and heteronomy, and argues that Adorno's dialectic of aesthetic semblance describes the normative demand that artworks maintain a dynamic tension between the two.The Sense of Semblance aims to move beyond familiar debates surrounding postmodernism by demonstrating the usefulness of contemporary theories of meaning and understanding, including those from the analytic tradition. Pickford shows how the causal theory of names, the philosophy of tacit knowledge,analytic philosophy of quotation, Sartre's theory of the imaginary, the epistemology of testimony, and Walter Benjamin's dialectical image can help explicate how individual artworks fulfill artistic and historical desiderata.In close readings of Celan's poetry, Holocaust memorials in Berlin, the quotational artist Heimrad Backer, Claude Lanzmann's film Shoah, and Art Spiegelman's graphic novel Maus, Pickford offers interpretations that, in their precision, specificity, and clarity, inaugurate a dialogue betweencontemporary analytic philosophy and contemporary art.

Author Biography

Henry W. Pickford is Assistant Professor of German at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He is the editor and translator of Critical Models: Interventions and Catchwords by Theodor W. Adorno.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrationsp. ix
Acknowledgmentsp. xi
Introduction: The Judgment of Holocaust Artp. 1
Mandelshtam's Meridian: On Paul Celan's Aesthetic-Historical Materialismp. 17
Conflict, and Commemoration: Two Berlin Memorialsp. 74
The Aesthetics of Historical Quotation: On Heimrad Bäcker's "System nachschrift"p. 137
The Aesthetic-Historical Imaginary: On Shoah and Mausp. 160
Conclusion: The Morality of Holocaust Artp. 204
Notesp. 211
Bibliographyp. 253
Indexp. 273
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