Early Modern Aesthetics: Antony and Cleopatra and the Afterlife of Domination

Mapp, N. 2020. Early Modern Aesthetics: Antony and Cleopatra and the Afterlife of Domination. Aisthesis: Pratiche, Linguaggi e saperi dell'estetico. 13 (2), pp. 169-184. https://doi.org/10.13128/Aisthe-sis-11728

TitleEarly Modern Aesthetics: Antony and Cleopatra and the Afterlife of Domination
TypeJournal article
AuthorsMapp, N.
Abstract

This essay argues that Antony and Cleopatra’s pitting of Egypt against Rome is a cipher of aesthetic resistance to modern rationality. The coordinates are Adornian. Antony’s and Cleopatra’s complex identities elude the disenchanting, nominalist machinery in which diffuse indeterminacy necessitates conceptual imposition. Here, the individuals are essentially dramatized: sensate, embodied selves composed and expressed in relations of passionate recognition. The lovers’ deaths, and especially Cleopatra’s self-conscious theatre, rewrite the ascetic, dominative, and pseudo-theatrical rationality of Octavian Rome. The protest, the passion and singularity, lives mainly through its expressive emphases – such as hyperbole – and the re-functioning of the very dominative roles and norms being opposed. This reflects the restricted but critical – aesthetic – status of early modern drama, and specifies its opposition to the deepening attack on sensate knowing in its world.

KeywordsShakespeare, Adorno, aesthetics, modernity, nominalism
JournalAisthesis: Pratiche, Linguaggi e saperi dell'estetico
Journal citation13 (2), pp. 169-184
ISSN2035-8466
Year2020
PublisherFirenze University Press
Publisher's version
License
CC BY 4.0
File Access Level
Open (open metadata and files)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.13128/Aisthe-sis-11728
Web address (URL)https://oajournals.fupress.net/index.php/aisthesis/article/view/11728/11797
Publication dates
Published19 Dec 2020

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