Final Paper Proposal

For my final paper I will explore the topic of film and why it has a positive potential for Benjamin.  This is a topic I wish to discuss because I enjoy watching movies and critically I view them as aesthetic experiences. For sources I will look to, one will be the Benjamin piece The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility. As a secondary source I will look at Jerrold Levinson’s Philosophical Aesthetics: An Overview to get an idea of what an aesthetic experience is and how it can be applied to Benjamin.


“Living Sculpture” by Piero Manzoni (Jay, pg 59)


This is a piece called Living Sculpture by Piero Manzoni as described by Jay.  Jay says in this example that the artist himself signs the nude model and presents them with a certificate that declares them a genuine piece of art.

This example can be related to something Higgins brings up in Whatever Happened to Beauty? A Response to Danto.  She brings up a point that historically, beauty is tied to humans and a reason we avoid it now is “we consider contemporary humans a poor candidate for beauty.” (pg 282). The example of Manzoni goes in tandem with Higgins as humans embracing beauty in the past.  Here we have a real person being deemed art for their beauty. Higgins continues on by saying we are quick to point out that people who are shown as beautiful nowadays are only done so because of “make up and special effects.” and that “American culture is cynical” (pg 282).  Living Sculpture is a direct contradiction to that new line of thinking we have as it embraces the natural beauty of a model.  This example shows how much society has changed over the years when it comes to sex and nudity in culture as well as how much it’s still changing.

José Limon “There is A Time” (Carroll, pg 588-589)

Carroll describes one theory of dance as the expression theory whose function is the “expression of feelings”.  This example, titled “There is A Time” from Jose Limon, displays dance with the intent to show human feelings. This piece is based on a Bible poem called “Ecclesiastes” which is “based on the cycle of universal human experiences”.  Limon focuses on themes of “the human family and enduring values”. Limon uses body movement to express different phrases of the poem. This ties to Carroll who explains that something is a dance if it possesses or projects expressive qualities. Limon expresses feelings such as happiness and sadness in this example through dance.