Philosophers, artists, and scholars have long recognized a kinship between the verbal and visual arts, but what, exactly, unites our experience of them has remained difficult to answer. This article demonstrates how techniques in Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles and Edgar Degas’s 1873 Dance Class enable audiences to experience a form of social connection unavailable to them in everyday life. Drawing on perspectives from sociolinguistics, discourse comprehension, and empirical aesthetics, the author shows how the cumulative experience of grasping what a literary text or painting does not fully represent can carry a metamessage of unspoken intimacy.
The Unspoken Intimacy of Aesthetic Experience: Hardy and Degas
Elaine Auyoung is McKnight Land-Grant Professor at the University of Minnesota, associate professor of English, and affiliate faculty of the Center for Cognitive Sciences. She is the author of When Fiction Feels Real: Representation and the Reading Mind (2018).
Elaine Auyoung; The Unspoken Intimacy of Aesthetic Experience: Hardy and Degas. Poetics Today 1 June 2020; 41 (2): 301–314. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/03335372-8172598
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