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UAL Research Online

The Philistine Controversy

Beech, Dave and Roberts, John (2002) The Philistine Controversy. Verso Books, London. ISBN 1859843743

Type of Research: Book
Creators: Beech, Dave and Roberts, John

Dave Beech and John Roberts are the editors of "The Philistine Controversy". The book was the result of a sustained critique of aestheticism in general and a shift in philosophical aesthetics and art history alike, which we termed the ‘new aestheticism’, that returned to aesthetics and beauty against the radical, avantgarde tradition that had culminated in postmodernism.

In his book review for the Guardian, Hywel Williams described the book thus: ‘Armed with a formidable array of post-modern hermeneutical devices, encased in prose which combines mandarin exclusivity with some barbarian thrusting at the gates of high culture, they want to redeem the category of the philistine.’

Julian Stallabrass devoted a chapter of his book ‘High Art Lite’ to the philistine controversy, regarding it as a rival heir to the Marxist critique of art and aesthetics. Sarah James, writing in Art Monthly, identifies the contribution of the book to contemporary thinking on art and culture in terms of its deep politicization: ‘They suggest that we should be thinking of difference not only in terms of the heterogeneous and diverse, but as division and alienation’.

Mark Hutchinson describes the theory in Zizekian terms: ‘The philistine is the part of aesthetic discourse that has no place within it. And, as such, it is that which haunts aesthetic discourse: a reminder of what has been excluded and repressed in order to perpetuate the elevated and cultural’. While Gary MacLennan has argued that ‘The Philistine Controversy’ is the first sustained attempt to integrate Roy Bhaskar’s Critical Realist philosophy into the study of aesthetics, and it is by virtue of this, he argues, that we ‘carry the debate forward’.

‘The Philistine Controversy’ is a serious and influential attempt to shift the debate on art and cultural division away from judgements of cultural value or quality (which suppress questions of cultural capital) to a social ontology of art.

Official Website: http://www.versobooks.com/
Publisher/Broadcaster/Company: Verso Books
Your affiliations with UAL: Colleges > Chelsea College of Arts
Date: 2002
Related Websites: http://www.chelsea.arts.ac.uk/36047.htm
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Date Deposited: 07 Dec 2009 12:47
Last Modified: 29 Sep 2011 14:24
Item ID: 845
URI: https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/845

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