Jerz: Media Aesthetics

Due Dates

This is the list of major due dates and readings. (I may also assign informal response papers or give pop quizzes that won't be reflected on this page.)

01/27/05: Various Introductory Resources

    Wikipedia on aesthetics, beauty, and media studies.

    Note that the Wikipedia entry on "media" presents a treatment of "mass media" -- that is, the Wikipedia entry does not cover other things that "mediate" between one person's thought process and another -- consider a hand gesture, a whisper, any of the sensory organs, neural impulses traveling to your brain, and the whole network of thoughts and associations your brain has compiled for the purpose of interpreting the signals it receives.

    See also:
    What is a Text?
    How Scholars Study Texts

01/27/05: Pygmalion Anthology

    Examine several versions of the Pygmalion legend, and consider the discussion prompts that follow.

02/03/05: May,''Mike's Journal''(Selections)

02/08/05: Plato, "The Allegory of the Cave"

02/10/05: Churchill, ''What Socrates Said to Phaedrus...''

    Churchill, John. "What Socrates Said to Phaedrus: Reflections on Technology and Education." Midwest Quarterly 44:2 (2003). 11p. Academic Search Elite. Seton Hill University, Reeves Library. 9 Feb 2005.

02/10/05: Plato, ''Phaedrus'' (excerpt)

02/17/05: Aristotle, ''Poetics'' (delayed -- was 2-15)

02/24/05: Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray (Preface)

    The artist is the creator of beautiful things.

    To reveal art and conceal the artist is art's aim.

    The critic is he who can translate into another manner or a new material his impression of beautiful things.

    The highest, as the lowest, form of criticism is a mode of autobiography.

    Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault.

    Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope. They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only Beauty.

    There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.

    The nineteenth-century dislike of Realism is the rage of Caliban seeing his own face in a glass.

    The nineteenth-century dislike of Romanticism is the rage of Caliban not seeing his own face in a glass.

    The moral life of man forms part of the subject matter of the artist, but the morality of art consists in the perfect use of an imperfect medium.

    No artist desires to prove anything. Even things that are true can be be proved.

    No artist has ethical sympathies. An ethical sympathy in an artist is an unpardonable mannerism of style.

    No artist is ever morbid. The artist can express everything.

    Thought and language are to the artist instruments of an art.

    Vice and virtue are to the artist materials for an art.

    From the point of view of form, the type of all the arts is the art of the musician.

    From the point of view of feeling, the actor's craft is the type.

    All art is at once surface and symbol.

    Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril.

    Those who read the symbol do so at their peril.

    It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors.

    Diversity of opinion about a work of art shows that the work is new, complex, and vital.

    When critics disagree the artist is in accord with himself.

    We can forgive a man for making a useful thing as long as he does not admire it. The only excuse for making a useless thing is that one admires it intensely.

    All art is quite useless.

    Oscar Wilde.

    (Emphasis added.)

02/24/05: Wilde, ''The Decay of Lying''

    Paradox though it may seem--and paradoxes are always dangerous things --it is none the less true that Life imitates art far more than Art imitates life.... And it has always been so. A great artist invents a type, and Life tries to copy it, to reproduce it in a popular form, like an enterprising publisher.... The Greeks, with their quick artistic instinct, understood this, and set in the bride's chamber the statue of Hermes or of Apollo, that she might bear children as lovely as the works of art that she looked at in her rapture or her pain. They knew that Life gains from Art not merely spirituality, depth of thought and feeling, soulturmoil or soulpeace, but that she can form herself on the very lines and colours of art and can reproduce the dignity of Pheidias as well as the grace of Praxiteles. Hence came their objection to realism. They disliked it on purely social grounds. They felt that it inevitably makes people ugly, and they were perfectly right. We try to improve the conditions of the race by means of good air, free sunlight, wholesome water, and hideous bare buildings for the better housing of the lower orders. But these things merely produce health; they do not produce beauty. For this, Art is required, and the true disciples of the great artist are not his studio imitators, but those who become like his works of art, be they plastic as in Greek days, or pictorial as in modern times; in a word, Life is Art's best, Art's only pupil.

02/24/05: Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray (Ch 1-4)

    Was Chapters 1-6... I thought I'd lighten the reading load just a bit.

03/01/05: Essay 1 Draft

    Investigate an issue that has arisen from the class discussion of the texts we have looked at so far.

    Length: 3-4 pages, not counting the works cited list.

03/01/05: Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray 2

    Finish the book.

03/01/05: Shelton, ''The Aesthetic Realism of Oscar Wilde's Dorian Gray''

    Waldrep, Shelton. "The Aesthetic Realism of Oscar Wilde's Dorian Gray." Studies in the Literary Imagination 29:1 (1996). 10p. Academic Search Elite. Reeves Library, Seton Hill University. 18 Feb 2006.

    Wilde's views on realism can perhaps best be described as contradictory. Although he takes realism to task in "The Decay of Lying" and seems to move toward a version of formalism in "The Critic as Artist," in his earlier writings he was often in favor of deploying realism for certain artistic and social ends. Wilde's mentor Walter Pater referred to Attic Greece as "an age clearly of faithful observation, of what we call realism . . . . Its workmen are close students . . . of the living form as such . . ." (Greek Studies 301). With Pater, Wilde developed the idea that England's culture should become Hellenic. Greece was seen as the ultimate type of a new Renaissance of the arts. Wilde considered his work to be the precursor of this new style, an aesthetics that would combine the best of the Greek with the best of the new--realism being an important connection between the two. As he says in "The English Renaissance of Art," "to the Greek, pure artist, that work is most instinct with spiritual life which conforms most clearly to the perfect facts of physical life" (248).

03/03/05: Portfolio 1

    03/03/05: Informal Presentation 1

      (Must be completed by today.)

    03/15/05: Urban Aesthetics and Power

    03/15/05: McNeill, ''Skyscraper geography''

      A full-length academic article on skyscrapers:

      McNeill, Donald. "Skyscraper geography." Progress in Human Geography 29.1 (2005): 15p. Reeves Library, Seton Hill U. 13 Mar 2005.

    03/15/05: Brooklyn Bridge & WTC

      Another short urban poem: Hart Crane, "To Brooklyn Bridge" (1930)

      A collection of quotations and links, which I compiled out of a compulsion to do something -- anything -- to respond to the 9/11 terror attacks.
      Jerz, Dennis G. "World Trade Center: Literary and Cultural Reflections." 11 Sep 2001. U of Wisconsin, Eau Claire; Seton Hill U. 12 Mar 2005. <>.

    03/17/05: Lang, Metropolis

      (In-class video. No time for oral presentations today.)

    03/29/05: Jerz, ''You Are Standing at the Beginning of a Road...''

      Update, 22 Mar. Rescheduled because Mar 24 is Holy Thursday. (Sorry about that.)

    03/29/05: Powers, Galatea 2.2

      Pages 3-88.

    04/07/05: Heller, ''Adventure''

      Consider problem-posing, problem-sloving, and trial-and-error not merely as the things that programmers and intellectuals do, but the things that humans do.

      What do PICK UP AX, Galatea 2.2, and Heller's article have to say about the ways people teach, learn, and rediscover their environment and themselves? (You're welcome to reach back to Plato or Wilde, if you like.)

    04/12/05: Informal Oral Presentation 2

      (Must be completed by today.)

    04/14/05: Portfolio 2

      04/19/05: Paper 2

        04/21/05: Primary Text TBA

          04/21/05: Article TBA

            04/28/05: Reading TBA

              04/28/05: Reading TBA

                05/03/05: Reading TBA

                  05/03/05: Reading TBA

                    05/05/05: Reading TBA

                      05/05/05: Reading TBA

                        05/06/05: Portfolio 3

                          Turn in your Term Paper as part of the portfolio.

                          A last-minute reminder of proper MLA format (PDF).