Publication Date

April 2016

Advisor(s)

Ethan Kleinberg

Major

College of Letters

Language

English (United States)

Abstract

My thesis proposes a new philosophy of aesthetics, which I argue provides a more accurate and insightful model of how we experience works of art and literature. This model, which I call fascination, illustrates how works of art first enthrall their audiences, but then harnesses their audiences’ experiences of that content to provoke them to reflect on it. Fascination therefore offers deeper insights into the themes within these works and thrives off the tensions that it exposes. This aesthetic model applies to works that contain ethical content, since they engage their audiences both emotionally and intellectually. Violence is an especially powerful and evocative example of ethical content, since it generates such radical responses from thrill to horror. As such, this thesis examines the role of violence in the arts, and how works with violent content model fascination.

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