Baudelaire, Philosopher Of Modernity Seminar Series On Charles Baudelaire’S ‘The Painter Of Modern Life’

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Baudelaire, Philosopher Of Modernity Seminar Series On Charles Baudelaire’S ‘The Painter Of Modern Life’

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Baudelaire, Philosopher of Modernity Seminar Series on Charles Baudelaire’s ‘The Painter of Modern Life’ Guest instructor: Hammam Aldouri (PhD Candidate, CRMEP Kingston University London) Friday February 13, 2015: 6:00-8:00pm Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery Writing in the mid-nineteenth century, a time of dynamic cultural, economic and political transformations, the French poet and art critic Charles Baudelaire employed a specific expression that tried to describe the kind of cultural life that emerged as a result of those transformations: ‘modernity.’ It is in the collection of writings organized under the title of ‘The Painter of Modern Life’ that we find the most condensed articulation of the meaning of this term. By modernity, Baudelaire (famously) offers the following meaning: ‘the ephemeral, the fugitive, the contingent.’ Less famously perhaps is the second part of his definition: ‘the half of art whose other half is eternal and the immutable.’ This seminar series on Baudelaire’s ‘The Painter of Modern Life’ is primarily focused on an exposition of the meaning and structure of what is encapsulated in the expression ‘modernity.’ The seminars will explore, more precisely, the way in which modernity is related to three constitutive features of Baudelaire’s essays and reflections: (1) his conception of art; (2) the cultural function of the artist; and (3) the specific temporality of ‘modernity’ as a form of time that gives sense to the distinction between modernity and other modes of time (‘ancient’ for example). Through our exploration of these points we will consider in some depth the emergence of the idea of ‘modern art’ from within and beyond Baudelaire’s reflections. We will consider, on the one hand, ‘modernity’ as an elastic historical expression that unites, under one expression, a myriad of distinct artistic practices and works of art; and on the other hand, ‘modernity’ as a determinate periodizing name that presupposes both a historical antecedent (pre-modern art) and a predecessor (post-modern art). We will reflect critically on the instrumental function of such periodization and indeed whether it operates at any level in Baudelaire’s crucial text. This seminar series is organized for those interested in the development of the concept of art, the idea of ‘modern art’, the historical sense of ‘modernity’, the socio-political function of the modern artist and the structure and import of art criticism. Moreover, it is orientated for those with an interested in the broader debates in the historical development of ideas in mid-nineteenth century Europe. As the seminars will consist of a discussion of specific points of Baudelaire’s ‘The Painter of Modern Life’, reading of the text prior to each seminar is highly recommended. For those interested, I will be using the Phaidon edition, translated by Jonathon Mayne (if I am not mistaken other translations can be found as PDFs online). Please note that we will be discussing the first fifteen pages of the work in the first seminar. Also note that no prior knowledge of either Baudelaire or the theoretical debates in which the work is situated are required. All are welcome. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me:

By: UArts Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery

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