Edited By Massimo Fusillo and Marina Grishakova
Conceived by Wagner as a way to recover the synthesis of arts at the core of Greek tragedy, the Gesamtkunstwerk played a significant role in post-Romantic and avant-garde aesthetics. It was designed to regenerate and defend the public function of art against mass culture and technology, yet at the same time depended on them in an ambivalent relationship manifested by its various realizations. The book reconceives the "total work of art" as a variation of intermediality, a practice that subverts any essentialist vision of artistic languages through complex interplay and blending of perceptions, amplified by new media and the syncretic nature of the cyberspace. The Gesamtkunstwerk can no longer be considered a Hegelian synthesis of arts or a Romantic and Wagnerian fusion of languages: it involves a synergy of different arts and media and captures the digital age’s principle of open textuality without any hierarchy and any organicist connotations. This book reveals the vitality of modern and contemporary Gesamtkunstwerk by mapping its presence in various arts and media.
The book is the first publication of the Research Committee on Literature, Arts, and Media (CLAM) of the International Association of Comparative Literature. The authors express their gratitude to the Estonian Research Council (PUT1481), the European Union Regional Development Fund (Center of Excellence in Estonian Studies), and the Department of Human Sciences of the University of L’Aquila (PRIN 2009) for funding this project. We thank Gene Zazzaro and the Bill Viola Studio for giving us permission to reproduce still images from Bill Viola’s Tristan und Isolde video.
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