Thesis ID: CBB001562770

Imaginative Beholding: Physiological Psychology and the Discourse on Representation in fin-de-siecle Germany (2010)


Newman, Winifred Elysee (Author)

Harvard University

Publication Date: 2010
Physical Details: 314 pp.
Language: English

From classical antiquity to the late nineteenth century a representation in art was judged successful based on it's broadly mimetic fidelity to Nature. The changing sense of reality at the turn of the century brought to the fore a new paradigm of representation seemingly as a clean rupture with the past in that a celebration of abstraction, illusion and distortion of the natural became the norm. The subject of this dissertation is to demonstrate that the modernist understanding of representation was not solely a rupture with the past but emerged from a productive exchange of concepts between the arts and sciences in the late nineteenth century from the discipline of psychology. I will contend that without the new models of mind emerging in German physiological psychology in the thirty year period 1860s-1890s the concept of representation in aesthetics would not have escaped the boundaries of classical mimesis and fostered the necessary conditions for the production and reception of modernity in aesthetics and by extension, art. The exchange between aesthetics and science of new knowledge produced by instruments and empirical methodologies of calibrating psychological responses to visual and sensual stimuli leads to an ontological shift in the concept of representation. This physiological aesthetics not only provided the terms for new formalist languages of art and criticism it also instigated a reconsideration of the limitation of the classical definition of representation in art. The emergence of early modernism depends on the new psychologism not only to explain the effects of a work of art and the new role of the observer, but also suggests that a new mechanics of thought is necessary to rationalize the reality of modernism through representation.


Description Cited in ProQuest Diss. & Thes. : doc. no. 3435304.

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Authors & Contributors
Borck, Cornelius
Stoffers, Manuel
Martensen, Robert Lawrence
Winter, Alison
Rousseau, George S.
Pind, Jörgen L.
Revue d'Histoire des Sciences
History of Psychology
Berichte zur Wissenschaftsgeschichte
Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences
Technology and Culture
Physis: Rivista Internazionale di Storia della Scienza
Oxford University Press
Palgrave Macmillan
Harvard University
Physiological psychology
Motion pictures; cinema; movies
Emotions; passions
Social psychology
Bain, Alexander
Kraepelin, Emil
Münsterberg, Hugo
Atwater, Wilbur Olin
Berger, Hans
Finnbogason, Gudmundur
Time Periods
19th century
20th century, early
18th century
20th century, late
17th century
20th century
Munich (Germany)
Université de Paris
Laboratoire de Psychologie Physiologique de la Sorbonne

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