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Title: Taming transgression : Dionysos in the arts of the modern era
Author: Massini, Alexandra
ISNI:       0000 0004 6061 9489
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2016
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The topic of my research is the irrational and the ways it was accommodated through the visual arts of the modern era. In particular, I explore this theme through the relationship between Dionysos and Apollo. Ever since Nietzsche's 'Die Geburt der Tragodie' (1872), the polarity of the two gods has been codified in Western culture. Yet while their discrepancy as opposites has been widely discussed, they are two sides of the same coin, sharing similar traits since Antiquity. Beginning with an introduction on the cultural climate of the nineteenth-century, I argue that Nietzsche's principles had been anticipated by the exponents of German Romanticism and found earlier sources in the Humanism of fifteenth-century Italy, when Plato's writings in praise of 'madness' were rediscovered. While investigating significant aspects of Western cultural heritage, I trace the sources of Nietzsche's ideas, confronting these with examples from the visual arts. To this end, I first re-consider the ancient Dionysos and his transformation in the Middle Ages. I then analyse which aspects of the god were favoured in the Renaissance and which Dionysian narratives were re-produced. Within this framework, I assess the multifaceted character of the god and the meanings he acquired according to different periods, places and requirements. `Bacchus, id est vinum' recites a popular formula, but from Michelangelo to Caravaggio and beyond, this was not the only Dionysian guise to be known in the modern era. While often represented as a merrymaking god of nature, either alone or participating in Bacchanals and his Triumphs, darker aspects could be chosen to represent his world. It is the madness and disorder, as well as the reasons for their revelation (or omission) in specific contexts that I explore, in the belief that they provided the roots for Nietzsche's dualistic formulations and many a modern coniunctio oppositorum.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: N Visual arts (General)