The conviction that the development and promotion of the arts, humanities and culture through the study of literature and the aesthetic are the fundamental constituents of any progress in society is at the heart of this volume. The essays gathered here explore the role of the imagination and aesthetic awareness in an age when the corporatization of kwledge is in the process of transforming literary studies, and political commitment is in danger of disappearing behind a supposedly post-ideological late-capitalist consensus. The main focus of the volume is the mutual implication of aesthetics and ideology and the status and value of different types of art within the political arena. Challenging issues in contemporary aesthetics are examined within the wider framework of current debates on the disappearance of the real, the crisis in representation, and the use of new media. The wide range of examples collected here, stretching from experimental poetry in post-war Germany, political commitment in twentieth-century French theatre, and countercultural Rumanian theatre under Ceausescu, to Neo-Victorian fiction, Verbatim theatre in the UK, and political theatre for the masses in Estonia, vouchsafe unique insights into the intersection of aesthetics and ideology and the practical consequences thereof. As such, the volume opens up a space for a meaningful engagement with authentic forms of art from inside and outside the Anglosphere, and, ultimately, uses these examples as a platform from which to imagine some form of aesthethics , representing an ideal union of aesthetics and ideology. This concept, first coined by the French philosopher Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe, will prove to be relevant both within the parameters of the examples discussed here, but also beyond, for the contributors to this volume are unanimous in refusing to believe that aesthetics and ideology can exist one without the other, and in recognizing the centrality of ethics in any discussion of these tions.
Madelena Gonzalez is Professor of Anglophone Literature at the University of Avignon, where she is in charge of the interdisciplinary research team Cultural Identity, Texts and Theatricality . Her main publications include Fiction after the Fatwa: Salman Rushdie and the Charm of Catastrophe (2005); Translating Identity and the Identity of Translation (2006); Generic Instability and Identity in the Contemporary Novel (2010); Authenticity and Legitimacy in Minority Theatre: Constructing Identity (2010); and Minority Theatre on the Global Stage: Challenging Paradigms from the Margins (2012). Rene Agostini is Professor of Literature at the University of Avignon. He has published various texts, philosophical essays, translations and collections of poems, and contributed to several volumes on Ireland, drama and theatre, poetry, and creative writing. He is now concentrating on philosophy and aesthetics, on Megalithic civilizations and their stone-carved symbols, on the Celtic world, the Druidic religion, and Shamanism. He was recently invited to Sierra Nevada College to lecture on Megalithic Symbols and The Translation of Poetry . He is also a musician (percussionist) and performs mainly in duets and trios, playing music composed collectively around his own poems.