Academic journal article Postmodern Studies


Academic journal article Postmodern Studies


Article excerpt

The baroque is back in contemporary culture. It is present in cultural life in general, in the debates on culture, in the consciousness of artists and cultural producers, and in scholarship. Thus, the baroque today constitutes a broad and complex field comprising both various cultural practices and knowledge production. This volume presents results emanating from the neo-baroque research group that has been active from 2007 to 2013, both from its members and from other neo-baroque scholars. Our group was part of the Hispanic Baroque Project, institutionally located at the University of Western Ontario. Our mandate was to explore the transhistorical and transcultural efficiencies of the historic Hispanic Baroque paradigm.

Through ten case studies, authored by international scholars, and three interventions by artists, this volume proposes various entries into this field, in the hope that the variety of its concrete objects, their dispersion in a plurality of domains and geo-cultural spaces, as well as their interdisciplinary approaches, amounts to a reasonably good coverage of the field as a whole and will offer some orientation in it.

In order to give the explorations and analyses presented here the consistency of a field of research, this introduction proposes to make its configuration explicit by regrouping some of the parameters and the challenges, which underlie the ten case studies. It will proceed in five steps. Firstly, a short phenomenography will be undertaken to document the object under study and to survey both its extent and its diversity. Secondly, a more general reflection will be necessary on the efficiency of a given paradigm such as the baroque in cultural history. The third stage will focus on the content of the prefix "trans-" in "transhistorical" and "transcultural", looking at the logics of cultural transfers both in their historical and spatial dimensions. Fourthly, we engage in a critical discussion on the cognitive strategies that apply in this field of research. And lastly, we take a closer look at some of its specific issues, such as the return of the baroque or emergence of the neo-baroque; the triad baroque-modern-postmodern; and the impact of new techno-mediatic possibilities on cultural production.

Phenomenography of the Today

Phenomenography is a qualitative method, which was developed in Sweden in the 70s, mainly for educational research. The French sociologist Michel Maffesoli later introduced it into sociology as the first stage in sociological research. He found it necessary, before exploring specific aspects of society, to take a good empirical look at ongoing social processes and to establish an inventory of phenomena that can be observed in order to see what is really happening in the social space. Phenomenography then becomes a method of qualitative diagnostics to collect indices about the existence or emergence of scientific object fields. It is in this sense that the research field that this volume is exploring will be approached by describing various phenomena that document the existence of a renewed interest in the baroque today.

There are quite different areas and practices in which a resurgence of the baroque is manifested in contemporary culture and research:


There have been (and there still are, of course) many exhibitions on historic baroque art in museums around the world. In 2010, for instance, the baroque painter Caravaggio was duly celebrated by various museums on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of his death. Recent events or exhibitions on the baroque thematized this volume's more specific interest in the baroque, that is in its continuous presence as a paradigm, a style, an issue, or simply a cultural material, from the 17th century on until our contemporaneity. Such exhibitions have been organized in different countries, indicating that they attempt to document a widespread cultural trend and taste as of today. Here are just a few that have taken place in our still young century:

- Deftig Barock. …

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