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Title: Shining through the surface : Washington Allston, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and imitation in romantic art criticism
Author: McBriar, Shannon Ross
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2007
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This thesis has evolved from William Blake's phrase, "Imitation is Criticism" written in the margin of Sir Joshua Reynolds's Discourses on Art. As a concept central to the production and criticism of art, imitation has largely been explored in the philosophical context of aesthetics rather than in terms of its practical application in image-text studies of the Romantic period. It has also traditionally served as a marker for the period designation 'Romantic', which in image-text studies continues to be played out in terms of the transition from imitative to expressive modes of making and response. Yet this notion of periodization has proven problematic in studying the response to 'false criticism' within what Wallace Stevens calls that 'corpus of remarks about painting'. These remarks reveal an important tension within imitation as a way of making something like something else, but also as a means of characterizing the relationships that underpin that resemblance. This tension not only occupies a central place in the concurrent development of art criticism and literary criticism in the period, but also offers a new foundation for the interdisciplinary study of image-text relationships in the period. The thesis is divided into two parts, each guided by the important role that imitation plays in the fight against 'false criticism' with respect to the visual arts. The first part examines the tension within imitation from the standpoint of artists and connoisseurs who expressed concern about the excesses of description in asserting the need for a credible art criticism while at the same time realizing its inevitability. The second part examines the tension within imitation from the standpoint of the American artist Washington Allston and his friend Samuel Taylor Coleridge, both of whom used this tension to advantage in setting forth a lexicon and methodology that could account not only for the 'specific image' described, but also the geometrical and structural relationships that underpin that image.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Art and literature ; History ; Art appreciation ; Art criticism ; England ; 19th century