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The Sublime

Semester and Year SP 2019
Course Number IDSEM-UG1788
Section 001
Instructor Bradley Lewis
Days F
Time 12:30 PM - 3:15 PM
Units 4
Level U
Requirement   HUM



Art of the sublime stirs up strong passions and competing evaluations. Labeled “indescribable” by many, the concept goes back to classical Greece. It then skips a millennium before becoming a key theory of eighteenth century Europe. The sublime at that time was applied to art and nature that instill awe and wonder (such as mountains, avalanches, waterfalls, stormy seas, or the infinite vault of the starry sky). In the wake of the French Revolution, the Romantic sublime becomes a route to formerly religious experiences of the unbounded and the supersensible. In our contemporary world, where political difference, postmodern theory, the Anthropocene, and neoliberal globalization seem to eclipse former concepts of nature and transcendent experience, the sublime is perhaps more fuzzy than ever. Yet the “sublime” remains very much alive and relevant to contemporary aesthetic, metaphysical, and ethical concerns. This course will examine theories of the sublime in writers and artists from ancient to contemporary, including Longinus, Edmund Burke, Immanuel Kant, William Wordsworth, Casper David Fredrickson, Arthur Schopenhauer, Frederic Nietzsche, Richard Wagner, Kate Chopin, W.E.B. DuBois, Blind Willie Johnson, Barnett Neumann, Robert Rosenblum, Jean-Francois Lyotard, Bill Viola, and Lars von Triers.


All Syllabi

Course Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)