Topic: ELIT Invited Talks (Atti Viragh) / Andrea Selleri
Time: Feb 10, 2022, 19:45.
***This is an online event. To obtain Zoom link and password, please contact to the department.
Walter Pater and the Philosophical Turn to Experience
Long recognized as among Victorian England’s most influential writers and thinkers, Walter Pater helped establish the foundations of the aesthetic movement with essay collections including Studies in the History of the Renaissance (1873), Appreciations (1889), and Plato and Platonism (1893). The theoretical substance of his contribution, however, remains disputed. A critical consensus sees Pater’s intellectual position as either ambivalent or incoherent, embracing impressionism, solipsism, or hedonism in an unsuccessful attempt to resist the tides of materialism and positivism sweeping his era. In this talk, I argue that Pater’s “aesthetic criticism” should be understood as part of his generation’s broader inquiry into the intersubjective ground of experience. Setting his key concepts of “touch,” “impress,” and “the scene of experience” alongside contemporaneous theories of lived experience (Erlebnis), expression, and understanding in the works of Wilhelm Dilthey, I show how Pater participates in a phenomenological turn emerging at the same time in continental thought.
Atti Viragh is a Lecturer and recent PhD in English at the University of California, Berkeley. His research focuses on nineteenth- and early-twentieth century literature and philosophy. His work appears in ELH, English Literature in Transition, 1880-1920, and New Literary History, where his article on Gerard Manley Hopkins received the Ralph Cohen Prize.