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Question Description

It should be 4-5 pages, double-spaced, in 12-pt. font, with standard margins. (Note: everything above the first line of your intro does not count towards the 4-page minimum.) Your paper should refer to at least three of the authors we have read in the middle portion of the course; these include Dewey, Nietzsche, Benjamin, Marcuse, Dewey, Danto, Freeland (ch. 4 and 7), and Davis. It should also draw on readings from at least three different weeks. (Also remember that using examples of specific works of art may help you to make your argument.)

Choose ONE of the following topics:

1. What are the special powers of the work of art? Consider at least three of the following views: 1) for Dewey, art consolidates and gives expression to the unity of experience; 2) for Nietzsche, art may allow us to experience a Dionysian unity with other humans and nature; 3) for Danto, art permits a special sort of dialogue that defines the “artworld”; 4) for Benjamin, art in the age of technical reproducibility may allow the masses to gain a sense of political unity; 5) for Marcuse, art can expose us to new realities which are otherwise suppressed by the dominant ideology; 6) for Davis, art expresses class interests in a number of distinct ways.

2. Dewey says the sense of a unity of experience provoked by an artwork introduces us to a deeper reality of the world in which we live (see p. 214); meanwhile, Danto describes the “artworld” as defining the domain of art history and theory in which a work of art must be understood.

Give a detailed description of at least one of these theories. Then address the question: How might these theories by criticized, or regarded as incomplete, when we approach them in light of considerations of economics and class? Consider this question in light of at least two of Benjamin, Marcuse, Freeland, and Davis.

3. Several of these authors suggest that the work of art opens onto a world that exceeds what exists within the “frame” of the artwork itself. Nietzsche suggests that the Apollonian and Dionysian are two extremes of experience – the one defined by order, the other by frenzy – that art gives us access to; Marcuse argues that art can open us up to realities which are otherwise suppressed by society (see especially p. 550-1); Danto suggests that to apply a particular artistic identification to a work of art is to enter into one world rather than another (see top of p. 477); and Dewey says the sense of a unity of experience provoked by an artwork introduces us to a deeper reality of the world in which we live (see p. 214).

Explain what these authors mean by saying that we can have access to these domains or “worlds” through art.