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Ahead of its Time: Historicity, Chronopolitics, and the Idea of the Avant-Garde after Modernism

Papaioannou, Chrysi Andriani (2017) Ahead of its Time: Historicity, Chronopolitics, and the Idea of the Avant-Garde after Modernism. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

In its etymology and in popular discourse, the term ‘avant-garde’ is commonly associated with a future temporality, while in art-historical discourse, it represents a tradition of modernist innovation, periodised as ‘historical avant-garde’ and ‘neo-avant-garde’. Since this historical periodisation was first established in the 1950s, the avant-garde’s futurity has been repeatedly disputed, bringing the very notion of an avant-garde into question. This thesis takes as its starting point the predicament of ‘an avant-garde after the avant-garde’ as a means to investigate the philosophico-political implications of a historical temporality marked by ‘afterness’. Writing in critical dialogue with scholarship that has articulated the avant-garde as a notion of historical time, the thesis modifies the parameters of this scholarship by foregrounding the category of historicism, and by reformulating the avant-garde as a notion that both resists and inhabits historical periodisation. As a study at the disciplinary intersection of comparative literature and critical theory, 'Ahead of its Time' proceeds via close readings of selected theories of the avant-garde (German literary scholar Peter Bürger’s foundational Theory of the Avant-Garde in the 1970s; British art theorist John Roberts’ formulation of a ‘suspensive avant-garde’ in the twenty-first century; and the intellectual debates of the Italian circle Neoavanguardia in the 1960s), while also mobilising the critical resources available in the thought of Walter Benjamin. Through a non-linear, comparativist critical analysis that discusses these theories in, and as, a Benjaminian constellation, the thesis proposes the avant-garde as a relational, indexical category that is constitutively split between historical continuity and historical rupture. In this manner, 'Ahead of its Time' revisits the broader question of mediation between universality and particularity, and by recasting it in temporal terms, it advocates a chronopolitics of singularity, whereby the avant-garde’s split between continuity and rupture also reveals the ethically-necessary relationship between self-determination and contingency.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Avant-Garde; Modernism; Chronopolitics; Temporality; Frankfurt School; Walter Benjamin; Theodor W. Adorno; Peter Bürger; John Roberts; Neoavanguardia.
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > Fine Art, History of Art & Cultural Studies (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.713241
Depositing User: Ms Chrysi A Papaioannou
Date Deposited: 15 May 2017 12:14
Last Modified: 25 Jul 2018 09:54
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/16922

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