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The Practice of Persuasion: Paradox and Power in Art History

The Practice of Persuasion: Paradox and Power in Art History

by Keith Moxey


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This sequel to The Practice of Theory stresses the continued need for self-reflective awareness in art historical writing. Offering a series of meditations on the discipline of art history in the context of contemporary critical theory, Moxey addresses such central issues as the status of the canon, the nature of aesthetic value, and the character of historical knowledge. The chapters are linked by a common interest in, even fascination with, the paradoxical power of narrative and the identity of the authorial voice. Moxey maintains that art history is a rhetoric of persuasion rather than a discourse of truth. Each chapter in The Practice of Persuasion attempts to demonstrate the paradoxes inherent in a genre that—while committed to representing the past—must inevitably bear the imprint of the present. In Moxey's view, art history as a discipline is often unable to recognize its status as a regime of truth that produces historically determined meanings and so continues to act as if based on a universal aesthetic foundation. His new book should enable art historians to engage with the past in a manner less determined by tradition and more responsive to contemporary values and aspirations.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780801438011
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Publication date: 12/14/2000
Series: 9/28/2005
Pages: 160
Product dimensions: 6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Keith Moxey is Ann Whitney Olin Professor of Art History at Barnard College and Columbia University. He is the author of The Practice of Theory: Poststructuralism, Cultural Politics, and Art History, also from Cornell, and Peasants, Warriors, and Wives: Popular Imagery in the Reformation.

What People are Saying About This

David Carrier

"The Practice of Persuasion provides a great opening for debate, a starting point for the discussion of issues where the argumentation is in flux. Anyone wanting to see why art history is intellectually exciting right now could hardly do better than to read this extremely lucid, mercifully brief, and very important book."

Catherine M. Soussloff

"Always provocative, Keith Moxey's work seeks to press at the vulnerable center of art history. In The Practice of Persuasion, Moxey marries a historiography of art history with a suggestive approach to art history writing to create a valuable, thought-provoking, and highly original book."

Griselda Pollack

"For over a decade, Keith Moxey had lucidly and persuasively made the case for art hisstory's necessary embrace of theory. Not in order to add fashionable novelty or opacity, theory has become a critical means of understanding what we can call art history's philosophical unconscious. Moxey's work moves elegantly between the historical terrain of his own art historical specialisation and the art historical discourses which have interpreted that historical domain in terms of narratives and underlying my themes that reflect on another historical moment, the moment of art historical enunciation. Presented with a clarity that reflects the breadth and depth of his mastery of a range of complex theorisations of narrativity, semiotics and historiography, Moxey's new book opens the door to the excitement of renovation in the field of art history, making plain what is often obscured in difficult prose. His is an important and influential voice in contemporary debates. Lucid, trenchant and persuasive, Moxey once again stands in steadfast in defence of intellectual reflexivity argument and the self-criticism of anyone engaged in historical study. This will be a vital book for both the field of Northern European art history and for the larger debates about why art history needs to change."

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