The Allegorical Impulse: Toward a Theory of Postmodernism*

  title={The Allegorical Impulse: Toward a Theory of Postmodernism*},
  author={Craig N. Owens},
  • C. Owens
  • Published 21 January 1980
  • Art
  • October
In a review of Robert Smithson's collected writings, published in this journal in Fall 1979, I proposed that Smithson's "genius" was an allegorical one, involved in the liquidation of an aesthetic tradition which he perceived as more or less ruined. To impute an allegorical motive to contemporary art is to venture into proscribed territory, for allegory has been condemned for nearly two centuries as aesthetic aberration, the antithesis of art. In Aesthetic Croce refers to it as "science, or art… 

Remapping the Constellation of Walter Benjamin’s Allegorical Method

Abstract The now-longstanding academic revival of allegory, as well as its import as a perennial buzzword of contemporary art criticism, owes much to a group of essays published in the journal

Ingres's Studio between History and Allegory: Rachel, Antiquity, and Tragédie

In 1855, critics attacked Amaury-Duval's allegorical portrait Tragedy for its studiously classicizing, desexed, mortified, and ultimately incomprehensible representation of the famed Jewish

Postmodern Allegory and 1960s Melancholy in Pynchon’s Inherent Vice

ABSTRACT The tail end of the 1960s saw the closing of two major sites of utopian potential and imagining: the waning of enthusiasm about deep-sea exploration and the disillusionment of radical social

An indolence of the heart

Walter Benjamin’s understanding of allegory as developed in The Origin of German Tragic Drama, and whose genius is Dürer’s image of winged melancholy, stands in diametric opposition to the symbolic

Beginning to theorize postmodernism

Of all the terms bandied about in both current cultural theory and contemporary writing on the arts, postmodernism must be the most overand under-defined. It is usually accompanied by a grand

Departures from postmodern doctrine in Jacques Rancière ’ s account of the politics of artistic modernity

Reading Jacques Rancière’s interventions in art theory can be a disconcerting experience. One recognises the recurrence of established heuristics of modern art while also encountering disruptions of

Theatricality, the Spectacle’s Veil and Allegory-in-Reverse in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible

ABSTRACT Our analysis will radicalise the notion of frame, which has been used in the field of the humanities, especially in a semiotic sense but also as a replacement for the often-used term of

Historicism and the Symbolic Imagination in Nazarene Art

Peter Cornelius's monumental 1840 fresco cycle in Munich's church of St. Ludwig summed up the German Nazarenes' endeavor to construct a modern religious painting: while rooted in emulation, its

Monuments of Empire: Allegory/Counter-Discourse/ Post-Colonial Writing

On Tuesday, 22 June 1897, Britain's loyal subjects — at Home, in the Dominions, and in the Colonies — celebrated in song and spectacle the Diamond Jubilee of Victoria's reign. It was not only the

Terror of the Simulacra: Struggles for Justice and the Postmodern

This text is an ethnographic text, if somewhat surreally. It invites the reader, not so much to agree with the evidence and the analysis set forth by its author, but to enter actively into the


The Mirror Stage as Formative o f the Function o f the I, (w:) Ecrits, transl. A. Sheridan

  • 1977