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Title page for ETD etd-07182012-111741

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Bradfield, Erin Cecilia
URN etd-07182012-111741
Title Silence and Silencing: Aesthetic Response as the Impetus for Community Formation
Degree PhD
Department Philosophy
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Gregg Horowitz Committee Chair
Boris Groys Committee Member
Jonathan Neufeld Committee Member
Jose Medina Committee Member
Michael Kelly Committee Member
  • Gordon Matta-Clark
  • Andy Warhol
  • David Lynch
  • aura
  • counterpublic
  • subculture
  • cult
  • avant-garde
  • community
  • wing clipping
  • taste
  • genius
  • Nietzsche
  • Wittgenstein
  • Kant
  • Nancy Fraser
  • Walter Benjamin
  • Marcel Duchamp
Date of Defense 2011-09-16
Availability unrestricted
Innovations in aesthetic and linguistic expression contribute to the expansion of communication and culture, yet these innovations in expression are often the target of censure. In this dissertation, I explore the risks of marginalization and censorship involved in such restrictions. I examine several forms of innovation in expression: new expressions that do not yet have a meaningful place in discourse; works of genius as defined by Kant; and avant-garde, cult, and subcultural forms of expression. Following a Kantian line of argument, I show that restrictions on expression constitute restrictions on individual subjects and are therefore all the more hazardous and reprehensible.

Chapter One examines the Wittgensteinian metaphor of language as an expanding city in relation to aesthetic ideas of community building and communication. Chapter Two investigates the demand to respond to art in three moments set forth in Kant’s Critique of Judgment: the subjective moment when individuals respond to art and experience cognitive pleasure; the intersubjective moment in which individuals respond to each other through judgments of taste; and the cultural moment in which the expressions of artist and audience alike are restricted through regulation and normalization of taste. This chapter concludes with an exploration of Kant’s notion of taste “clipping the wings of genius” for the sake of culture. Chapter Three and Chapter Four explore three interpretations of Kantian wing clipping: no clipping, minimal or moderate clipping, and extreme wing clipping. I investigate works of art that have been marginalized or censored in order to establish the implications of each kind of restriction. Chapter Four goes on to investigate community formation and the power of publics to exclude individuals and expressions. Chapter Five explores the distinction between cults and subcultures based upon each group’s goals and communication preferences. Here, I examine how expressions on the margins of culture are crucial to culture’s advancement. I deploy this analysis by examining three artists who exhibit genius: Andy Warhol, Gordon Matta-Clark, and David Lynch.

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