The poetics of ekphrasis in Walter Pater's painted proseShow full item record
|The poetics of ekphrasis in Walter Pater's painted prose
|Doctor of Philosophy
|My investigation of Walter Pater's critical and creative prose analyzes the interrelations of his philosophy, his aesthetic theory, and his literary style. Contrary to the popular image of Pater as a mere hedonist aesthete, this dissertation portrays him as a serious philosopher, critic, and original author deeply engaged in the mutual dependencies between interpretations of the self and images of the knowable world. Using ekphrasis as his principle trope, Pater challenges the conventional divisions among philosophical, literary, and visual texts. By combining the descriptive and prescriptive traditions of ekphrasis, he frames a confrontation between objective knowledge and perspectives of the first-person viewpoint. Appealing to the aesthetic for standards of beauty, taste, and ethical conduct, the critical essays in The Renaissance, then, shape his aesthetic theory, while the central theme of the Imaginary Portraits is the reconciliation of an aesthetic and an ethical image of the world. Ekphrastic portraiture provides the ideal tropological pattern for correlating the subjective and the cultural points of view. Appealing to history and to the aesthetic, Pater presages the current controversy over where to draw the boundaries between the aesthetic, the social and the political life. In addition, he questions the validity of the Western humanist tradition, and the contributions of the fine arts to the general culture of nineteenth-century Europe.
|Hughes, Linda K.
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- Doctoral Dissertations