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Inspiration and Technique

Ancient to Modern Views on Beauty and Art

John Roe and Michele Stanco

While Plato extols inspired poetry (as opposed to poetry produced by means of technique), Aristotle conceives of poetry only in terms of technê. Underlying the opposition between inspiration and technique are two different approaches to ‘form’: inspiration is concerned with the impression of ideas or forms within the poet’s psyche (the author’s forma mentis), whereas technique deals with the transposition of the artist’s idea into the material form of the work (the forma operis). This dual view of form, and of its complex relation to matter, may be said to lie at the basis of a dual approach to aesthetic issues – a psychological and a textual one. Taking their cue from this opposition, the essays gathered here explore some of the most momentous phases in the history of aesthetics, from Graeco-Roman philosophy and oratory to Renaissance poetry and literary criticism, from neoclassical poetics to Romantic and Victorian views on inspired visions, to recent issues in neuroaesthetics, philosophy of art and literary linguistics. In so doing, they collectively point to the irremediable and continuing dualism of a critical tradition that has alternately emphasized the ideal elements of beauty and the material constituents of art.
Contents: Michele Stanco: Introduction. Aesthetic Forms: Ancient and Modern – Michael J. Edwards: Rhetoric and Technique in the Attic Orators and Aristotle’s technê rhêtorikê – Michele Stanco: ‘Madness’ and ‘Technique’. Psychological Theories of Beauty and Textual Theories of Art – Glyn P. Norton: Improvisation and Inspiration in Quintilian. The Extemporalizing of Technique in the Institutio Oratoria – Alessandra Petrina: Creative ymagynacioun and Canon Constraints in the Fifteenth Century. James I and Charles d’Orléans – Patricia Kennan: The Ideal versus the Text in Sidney’s Defence of Poesy – John Roe: Refined Eros in Sidney’s Astrophil & Stella and Chapman’s Ovids Banquet of Sence – Angela Locatelli: Larger than Science? Bacon’s Idea of Poetry in The Advancement of Learning – C. Maria Laudando: The Double Nature of Art in Eighteenth-century England. Pope, Addison, Hogarth – Edward Nye: Rationalist and Sensationist Aesthetics in Eighteenth-century France – Claudia Corti: Visionary Aesthetics and Opiate Texts in British Romanticism – Adrian Grafe: Hopkins’s ‘one rapture’ and its Inscription in Time and Eternity – Peter Robinson: Wittgenstein’s Aesthetics and Revision – Peter Conradi: Iris Murdoch’s The Black Prince. Dancing the Dance of Creation – Brian G. Caraher: Genre Theory. A Sociolinguistic Approach to the Aesthetics of Literary Form – Ivan Gaskell: After Art, Beyond Beauty.