Criticism and Modernity traces the conditions under which criticism emerges as a socio-cultural practice within the institutionalized forms of European modernity and democracy. It argues that criticism is born out of anxieties about national supremacy in the late seventeenth century, with the consequence that the emergent national cultures of the eighteenth century and since become sites for the regulation of the democratic subject through the academic form
of arguments about the proper relations of aesthetics to ethics and politics. The central issue is that of legitimation: how can subjective aesthetic experiences regulate the norms of ethical justice? That question is posed not as an abstract philosophical issue, but rather as a question properly located
within the struggles for national culture. The usual Germanic source of modern aesthetics and criticism is here placed in the broader European context, involving contests between England, France, Scotland, Ireland, and the emergent Germany and Italy. Writers addressed include Corneille, Dryden, Molière, Shaftesbury, Hutcheson, Hume, Rousseau, Kant, Schiller, Hegel, Schopenhauer; and, throughout, the legacy of these thinkers is found in the most recent contemporary
theory, in work by Agamben, Badiou, Lyotard, MacIntyre, and others. A closing chapter considers the formation of the university across modern Europe, in Vico's Naples, Humboldt's Berlin, Newman's Dublin, Blair's Edinburgh, the France of Alain and Benda, the England of Leavis, as well as our contemporary
`arresting and serious.'
David Watson, Lit & History, Vol.9, No.1.
Section I. Criticism and National Theatricality
Tragedy and the Nationalist Condition of Criticism
Love as the European Humour
Section II. The Subject of Democracy
The Culture of Benevolence
Democracy Time and Time Again
The Politics of Singularity
Section III. Aesthetic Education
Pessimism, Community, and Utopia in Aesthetic Education
Education, English, and Criticism in the University