Aesthetics of Presence: Philosophical and Practical Reconsiderations

In the field of aesthetic experiences, presence must be seen as mental activities such as attention, curiosity, and participation. The mere physical ‘being-there’ guarantees no aesthetic responses to artistic or natural appearances. When aesthetics became part of the discourse in eighteenth-century Enlightenments philosophy, the beholder was the centre of interest: how observations turned into aesthetic experiences. In this book, the spectator, reader, listener and viewer have again become the focus of scholarly attention, replacing the century-long dominance of the artwork as exclusive object of aesthetics.

In the light of such historical observations, the book develops central aspects of an aesthetics of presence, and introduces, interfoliated with cases of aesthetic experiences in arts and theatre, cities and nature, new parameters of presence. Perceiving, playing, placing and performing are explored and systematised here as theoretical cornerstones of a renewed ‘Aesthetics of Presence’.

Willmar Sauter is Emeritus Professor of Theatre Studies at Stockholm University. He has published numerous books and articles on national and international theatre histories, from Bronze Age rock carvings to analyses of digitally animated performances. He is well-known for his contributions to performance theory, among them his books on The Theatrical Event (2000) and Eventness (2008). His most recent historical book is about The Theatre of Drottningholm – Then and Now (with David Wiles, 2014). He has served as President of the International Federation for Theatre Research (IFTR) and as Dean of the Humanities and Head of the Research School of Aesthetics of Stockholm University.

“Sauter is fascinated by the immediacy and force of aesthetic experience and relates his discovery of its history and dimensions. He writes with clarity and sensitivity, articulating the cognitive foundations of an aesthetic sensibility that has been struggling for recognition over the past fifty years. This is an aesthetics not of objects (beauty) nor of subjects (distance, disinterestedness) but an aesthetics of situations experienced variously as ‘aura’, ‘engagement’, the ’between’, or ‘atmosphere’, and here articulated as ‘presence.‘ Sauter’s account of the compelling force of aesthetic presence is fresh, lucid, and eminently convincing.”
Arnold Berleant
Author of The Aesthetic Field: A Phenomenology of Aesthetic Experience

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ISBN: 1-5275-6206-9

ISBN13: 978-1-5275-6206-6

Release Date: 17th December 2020

Pages: 206

Price: £61.99


ISBN: 1-5275-7060-6

ISBN13: 978-1-5275-7060-3

Release Date: 24th June 2021

Pages: 206

Price: £25.99