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Rethinking Lessing's Laocoon: Antiquity, Enlightenment, and the 'Limits' of Painting and Poetry (Avi Lifschitz) Hardcover Book, (Oxford University Press, 2017) 9780198802228
Rethinking Lessing's Laocoon: Antiquity, Enlightenment, and the 'Limits' of Painting and Poetry (Avi Lifschitz) Hardcover Book, (Oxford University Press, 2017) 9780198802228
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Title: Rethinking Lessing's Laocoon: Antiquity, Enlightenment, and the 'Limits' of Painting and Poetry

Author: Lifschitz, Avi

Additional Authors or Contributors: Michael Squire (eds)

Publisher: Oxford University Press; Publication Date: 2017

Hardcover; ISBN: 9780198802228

Volumes: 1; Pages: 480

List Price in Hardcover: $110.00 Our price: $87.99

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Gotthold Ephraim Lessing first published Laokoon, oder uber die Grenzen der Mahlerey und Poesie (Laocoon, or on the Limits of Painting and Poetry) in 1766. Over the last 250 years, Lessing's essay has exerted an incalculable influence on western critical thinking. Not only has it directed the history of post-Enlightenment aesthetics, it has also shaped the very practices of 'poetry' and 'painting' in a myriad of different ways.

In this anthology of specially commissioned chapters - comprising the first ever edited book on the Laocoon in English - a range of leading critical voices has been brought together to reassess Lessing's essay on its 250th anniversary. Combining perspectives from multiple disciplines (including classics, intellectual history, philosophy, aesthetics, media studies, comparative literature, and art history), the book explores the Laocoon from a plethora of critical angles. Chapters discuss Lessing's interpretation of ancient art and poetry, the cultural backdrops of the eighteenth century, and the validity of the Laocoon's observations in the fields of aesthetics, semiotics, and philosophy. The volume shows how the Laocoon exploits Greek and Roman models to sketch the proper spatial and temporal 'limits' (Grenzen) of what Lessing called 'poetry' and 'painting'; at the same time it demonstrates how Lessing's essay is embedded within Enlightenment theories of art, perception, and historical interpretation, as well as within nascent eighteenth-century ideas about the 'scientific' study of Classical antiquity (Altertumswissenschaft). To engage critically with the Laocoon, and to make sense of its legacy over the last 250 years, consequently involves excavating various 'classical presences': by looking back to the Graeco-Roman past, the volume demonstrates, Lessing forged a whole new tradition of modern aesthetics.

Table of Contents


List of Illustrations

List of Tables

Note on Laocoon Editions

0. Foreword: Why Lessing's Laocoon Still Matters, W. J. T. Mitchell

1. Introduction: Rethinking Lessings Laocoon From Across the Humanities, Avi Lifschitz and Michael Squire

2. Laocoon Today: On the Conceptual Infrastructure of Lessing's Treatise, David E. Wellbery

3. Laocoon among the Gods, or: On the Theological Limits of Lessing's Grenzen, Michael Squire

4. Lessing's Laocoon as Analytical Instrument: The Perspectives of a Classical Archaeologist, Luca Giuliani

5. Sympathy, Tragedy, and the Morality of Sentiment in Lessing's Laocoon, Katherine Harloe

6. Mendelssohn's Critique of Lessing's Laocoon, Frederick Beiser

7. Naturalizing the Arbitrary: Lessing's Laocoon and Enlightenment Semiotics, Avi Lifschitz

8. Temporalizationa Lessing's Laocoon and the Problem of Narration in Eighteenth-Century Historiography

9. Criticism as Poetrya Lessing's Laocoon and the Limits of Critique

10. Suffering in Art: Laocoon between Lessing and Goethe, Ritchie Robertson

11. Transparency and Imaginative Engagement: Material as Medium in Lessing's Laocoon, Jason Gaiger

12. Lessing's Laocoon and the 'As-If' of Aesthetic Experience, Jonas Grethlein

13. Art and Necessity: Rethinking Lessing's Critical Practice, Paul A. Kottman

14. Image and Text in Lessing's Laocoon: From Friendly Semiotic Neighbours to Articulatory Twins, Jurgen Trabant

15. Envoi: The Two-Fold Liminality of Lessing's Laocoon, Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht


Notes on Contributors



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