This book reexamines Theodor Adorno's Aesthetic Theory, along with his other writings, to see if his ideas are still relevant today. First published in 1970, Aesthetic Theory raises a number of questions, such as the emphasis on the special status of the artwork for which Adorno uses the term “autonomy.” The new impulses in the contemporary discussion, readily associated with names such as Elaine Scarry and Peter de Bolla, require a rereading of Aesthetic Theory. This book focuses on the challenge to Adorno's Aesthetic Theory that comes today from different directions. It explores how the concept of aesthetic experience in Aesthetic Theory compares to the ideas of Scarry and de Bolla, and whether one can argue for the universal nature of aesthetic experience or universal aesthetic values and include Adorno in such an argument. Part I considers theoretical questions and approaches Aesthetic Theory from different perspectives. Part II discusses Adorno's literary criticism, and especially his engagement with specific works, authors, and historical periods.
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