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Levi-Strauss, Anthropology, and Aesthetics


Part of Ideas in Context

  • Date Published: November 2007
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521875295

£ 81.00

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About the Authors
  • In a wide-ranging 2007 study of Claude Lévi-Strauss's aesthetic thought, Boris Wiseman demonstrates not only its centrality within his oeuvre but also the importance of Levi-Strauss for contemporary aesthetic enquiry. Reconstructing the internal logic of Lévi-Strauss's thinking on aesthetics, and showing how anthropological and aesthetic ideas intertwine at the most elemental levels in the elaboration of his system of thought, Wiseman demonstrates that Lévi-Strauss's aesthetic theory forms an integral part of his approach to Amerindian masks, body decoration and mythology. He reveals the significance of Lévi-Strauss's anthropological analysis of an 'untamed' mode of thinking (pensée sauvage) at work in totemism, classification and myth-making for his conception of art and aesthetic experience. In this way, structural anthropology is shown to lead to ethnoaesthetics. Lévi-Strauss, Anthropology and Aesthetics adopts a broad-ranging approach that combines the different perspectives of anthropology, philosophy, aesthetic theory and literary criticism into an unusual and imaginative whole.

    • Applies Lévi-Strauss's ideas to an understanding of both ethnographic and Western art
    • Includes succinct explanations of many of Lévi-Strauss's key ideas and theories
    • Features an extensive bibliography of Lévi-Strauss's works in English and in French
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    Reviews & endorsements

    Review of the hardback: 'It is evident that there is great expertise in these pages, and even for the non-anthropologist, much material whose interest it would be hard to deny.' Modern Language Review

    'Boris Wiseman, who was in charge of editing The Cambridge Companion to Lévi-Strauss (2009), has reexamined this 'work' in terms of the relation between anthropology and aesthetics, with an admirable capacity to reappraise texts thanks to the use of examples and comparisons.' Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

    'Wiseman brings aesthetics back into anthropology as a philosophical dimension that returns to the romantic project of reconciling the intellect and the senses. This allows him to read together texts that Lévi-Strauss dedicated to art with proper production of anthropological science.' Frédéric Keck, Journal of the Royal Astronomical Institute

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    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2007
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521875295
    • length: 264 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 19 mm
    • weight: 0.56kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: Ethnoaesthetics
    1. The reconciliation
    2. Art and the logic of sensible qualities
    3. The work of art as a system of signs
    4. Structuralism, symbolist poetics and abstract art
    5. The anthropologist as art critic
    6. Nature, culture, chance
    7. From myth to music
    8. Lévi-Strauss' mytho-poem
    Conclusion: between concept and metaphor.

  • Author

    Boris Wiseman, University of Durham

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