The Concept of Style

The Concept of Style

The Concept of Style

The Concept of Style

Excerpt

The essays collected here were in their original versions delivered as lectures at a Summer Institute in Aesthetics in Boulder, Colorado, 6 June to 1 July 1977; the title of the present volume served as the topic for the Institute. The lecturers (as well as the other participants) at the Institute represented many of the fields of the humanities: philosophy, literature, fine arts, music, history--reflecting in that variety the currents of recent interest in the concept of style and also anticipating the considerable differences of method, emphasis, and idiom in the formulations given it. A premise to the work of the Institute held that such differences nonetheless moved around a common center; analysis would, it was hoped, reveal the connections (if not necessarily a unity) among the differences, and might also display the relations among the disciplines that had thus found in style--the thing or the concept or both--a focus.

The reader will judge for himself to what extent this expectation has been realized. He will also, I believe, be in a position to judge from these essays the "state of the art"--the accomplishments and obstacles affecting the study of the concept of style, as those are disclosed or can be inferred from a number of important disciplinary and conceptual perspectives in current American and English thought.

Several general features of the essays as a collection bear on the latter point. One such feature is the evident reluctance of the respective authors of the essays to take anything for granted, not only as concerns the specific aspects of style addressed by each, but even in the most general and, one might suppose, elementary features of the concept. For Svetlana Alpers and, to a lesser extent, for George Kubler, the historical and thus the theoretical warrant for the concept of style is itself open to question (that . . .

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