Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms

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AESTHETICS

Aesthetics is known as the study of beauty in nature and the arts. This term is relevant to literary criticism because it looks at the relationship between the beauty and the truth. The two main parts of aestheticism are the philosophical approach that allows for questions relating to nature or definition of beauty as well as the psychological approach that looks into the perception, origins, and effects of beauty. The branch of philosophy deals a lot with the nature and expression of beauty, as in the fine arts; while, the psychological aspect looks at the readers response to the beauty and artistic experiences within the literature. In literary aesthetics, the study of effect shows the deep structures of reading and receiving literary works. These effects may be grouped by their types of writing and the relationship that the reader assumes with time.

I think the philosophical and psychological aspects of this type of criticism is very interesting and makes the critic really delve into the story.

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3 Comments

Sue said:

I'm glad I'm not the only one that wondered about this word. I hate not knowing what something means. It's nice to know that even professors have to look up words sometimes.

Ah, the joy of aesthetics - I looked it up too - used it in my paper actually. Though I went for the German philosopher's approach to it - striving to be in connection with the spiritual.

Jason Pugh said:

I'm glad that you decided to look up Aesthetics, because it really is a very defined, yet confusing sort of criticism. Look at literature as beauty and art is something that sounds so simple, but at the same time, really takes a lot of time to look at the art on and underneath the text. Not to mention, the philosophical approach to me seems to be more challenging than a psychological approach. Looking at the "taste" of the a piece of literature is also very difficult, because we need to determine what is socially good and bad, which only leads us into another type of criticism. Definitely a very touchy subject.

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