New Book | Practical Form

Posted in books by Editor on December 26, 2020

From Yale UP:

Abigail Zitin, Practical Form: Abstraction, Technique, and Beauty in Eighteenth-Century Aesthetics (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2020), 248 pages, ISBN: 978-0300244564, $65.

In this original work, Abigail Zitin proposes a new history of the development of form as a concept in and for aesthetics. Her account substitutes women and artisans for the proverbial man of taste, asserting them as central figures in the rise of aesthetics as a field of philosophical inquiry in eighteenth-century Europe. She shows how the idea of formal abstraction so central to conceptions of beauty in this period emerges from the way practitioners think about craft and skill across the domestic, industrial, and so-called high arts. Zitin elegantly maps the complex connections among aesthetics, form, and formalism, drawing out the understated presence of practice in the writings of major eighteenth-century thinkers including Locke, Addison, Burke, and Kant. This new take on an old story ultimately challenges readers to reconsider form and why it matters.

Abigail Zitin is associate professor of English at Rutgers University.


Author’s Note

1  ‘A Rough Unsightly Sketch’: Empiricism and the Sense of Form
2  The Figure of Practice
The Analysis of Beauty, I: Practical Formalism
The Analysis of Beauty, II: The Feminist Formalism
5  Making Art in the Third Critique


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