Against Interpretation Themes

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Form and Content (Formalism)

The distinction between form and content and the attendant value of formalism in aesthetics and cultural criticism is Sontag's primary means of distinguishing between classic, dominant modes of understanding art and her novel approach. This theme commences the book and is discussed at a conceptual and theoretical level in an essay that shares the books title, "Against Interpretation." Here Sontag argues that the mimesis theory of art has remained dominant in the Western imaginary since the time of Plato. This theory holds that all works of art are essentially representations or imitations of reality. Sontag claims that one side-effect of this theory is an unnecessary division between the content of a particular work of art and its form or formal elements.

Sontag rejects this theory on the grounds that it constricts the force and power of art. Instead, she issues a call for a return...

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This section contains 2,203 words
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Buy the Against Interpretation Study Guide
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