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Culture, Aestheticism, And Ethics: Sontag and The “Idea of Europe”

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 October 2020


After her death, susan sontag was portrayed in many obituaries (including one i wrote for the french daily Le Monde) as an intellectual who had moved from the formalism and aestheticism of her early work to the ethically engaged stance of her later essays, right up to the last one she published in her lifetime, the stinging indictment of American torture of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib. Sontag was eloquent, as well as somewhat despairing, in her diagnosis of an “increasing acceptance of brutality” and a “culture of shamelessness” in American life (“Regarding the Torture” 28–29); similarly, after September 11, 2001, she did not hesitate to denounce (in a brief essay that earned her the label of “un-American” in some quarters) the “sanctimonious, reality-concealing rhetoric spouted by American officials and media commentators” in the days following the attack (“Comment”).

Theories and Methodologies
Copyright © Modern Language Association of America, 2005

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Works Cited

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