The Practices of the Enlightenment: Aesthetics, Authorship, and the Public

Hardcover | June 2, 2015

byDorothea E. von Mücke

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Rethinking the relationship between eighteenth-century Pietist traditions and Enlightenment thought and practice, The Practices of Enlightenment unravels the complex and often neglected religious origins of modern secular discourse. Mapping surprising routes of exchange between the religious and aesthetic writings of the period and recentering concerns of authorship and audience, this book revitalizes scholarship on the Enlightenment.

By engaging with three critical categories-aesthetics, authorship, and the public sphere-The Practices of Enlightenment illuminates the relationship between religious and aesthetic modes of reflective contemplation, autobiography and the hermeneutics of the self, and the discursive creation of the public sphere. Focusing largely on German intellectual life, this critical engagement also extends to France through Rousseau and to England through Shaftesbury. Rereading canonical works and lesser-known texts by Goethe, Lessing, and Herder, the book challenges common narratives recounting the rise of empiricist philosophy, the idea of the "sensible" individual, and the notion of the modern author as celebrity, bringing new perspective to the Enlightenment concepts of instinct, drive, genius, and the public sphere.

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Rethinking the relationship between eighteenth-century Pietist traditions and Enlightenment thought and practice, The Practices of Enlightenment unravels the complex and often neglected religious origins of modern secular discourse. Mapping surprising routes of exchange between the religious and aesthetic writings of the period and re...

Dorothea E. von Mücke is professor of German and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. She is the author of Virtue and the Veil of Illusion: Generic Innovation and the Pedagogical Project and The Seduction of the Occult and the Rise of the Fantastic Tale. Her coedited books include Body and Text in the Eighteenth Century and ...
Format:HardcoverDimensions:320 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.98 inPublished:June 2, 2015Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:023117246X

ISBN - 13:9780231172462

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsIntroductionPart One. The Birth of Aesthetics, the Ends of Teleology, and the Rise of Genius1. The Surprising Origins of Enlightenment Aesthetics2. Disinterested Interest: The Human Animal's Lack of Instinct3. Beautiful, not Intelligent Design4. Enlightenment Discourses on Original Genius5. "Where Nature Gives the Rule to Art"6. The Strasbourg Cathedral: Edification and TheophanyConclusionPart Two. Confessional Discourse, Autobiography, and Authorship7. Pietism8. Rousseau9. Goethe: From the "Confessions of a Beautiful Soul" to Poetry and TruthPart Three. Imagined Communities and the Mobilization of a Critical Public10. Patriotic Invocations of the Public11. Real and Virtual Audiences in Herder's Concept of the Modern Public12. Mobilizing a Critical PublicNotesIndex

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Why are the arts and literature such crucial spaces for the modern cultivation of human freedom? Dorothea von Mücke gives this question a remarkable history, revealing how and why aesthetics became so fundamental to Western ideals of creativity, responsibility, and autonomy. Moving nimbly across theology, moral philosophy, natural philosophy, and print culture-and engaging a host of eighteenth-century literary figures from the familiar to the unknown-von Mücke's book charts how the Enlightenment made artistic creativity the very marker of humanity itself.