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Unveiling the invisible wound: the relevance of tragedy in the public sphere

Delacruz, MA; (2016) Unveiling the invisible wound: the relevance of tragedy in the public sphere. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Through theoretical and practical engagement with the Ajax of Sophocles, this investigation seeks to identify an operative model by which works of art can influence the public sphere outside a discourse-dependent concept of aesthetic reason. It is proposed that Attic tragedy can serve as an archetype for art’s civic function that moves beyond the boundaries of a linguistically-mediated act of communication to incorporate notions of intuitive experience, the ‘dramatic’, or ‘the tragic’, and clarify how works of art can constructively support the development of civic consciousness. The function of art in public life and the capacity of the aesthetic to influence the formulation of ethical norms have been largely viewed from a discourse-theoretical perspective where aesthetic experience serves primarily as the motivator for second-order conceptual judgments that become the subject of discussion or debate. To the extent that Attic tragedy may have generated a profoundly non-discursive experience as much as a discursive or didactic one that shaped the conditions for participatory democracy in Periclean Athens, tragedy may provide an alternative model of the aesthetic as a type of an inherently critical 'limit experience' that sheds light on the world through its conceptual indeterminacy – an experience that raises questions rather than answers them. In addition to examining the use of tragedy as a key aesthetic category in post-Enlightenment metaphysical design and its potential re-application in a discourse theoretical framework, this project incorporates a complementary program of practical experimentation with specific attention given to the development of non-objective pictorial strategies employed in American post-war painting substantially influenced by Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy. As an example of the process of intermedial transposition, the practice component endeavours to refract themes prevalent in Sophocles’ Ajax, centered on the individual and collective cost of war, through the lens of our own recent, globally-expansive and ideologically-driven military enterprises and into works of visual art.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Unveiling the invisible wound: the relevance of tragedy in the public sphere
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > The Slade School of Fine Art
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1503354
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