Non-Fiction Books:

Techne Theory

A New Language for Art



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Techne Theory by Henry Staten

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Henry Staten's Techne Theory proposes a radical realignment of contemporary aesthetic philosophy, criticism and practice. By tracing an understanding of the nature and implications of art (whether philosophical, social or political), via the ancient Greek concept of techne, Staten is able to reignite an appreciation for the artwork as work. Techne is the systematic knowledge of human activity based around a craft or applied practice. It shapes many of our experiences, yet has been consistently overlooked in modern art theory and criticism, despite its origins in Plato and Aristotle, which have traditionally privileged the reader, viewer or listener over the process by which a work is made. Instead, by subordinating the perspective of interpretation to that of production, Techne Theory offers an original materialist critique that advances traditional materialist approaches which have tended to focus on socio-economic conditions. Through the framework of "reverse engineering", the techne interpreter attempts to read in reverse from the achieved work to re-construct the design and production process by which the work was originally put together. Staten moves through both visual art and literature to develop a working model of techne criticism that enables combinations of agency and structure, concept and practice, form and content, possibility and actuality. Techne Theory affirms an important critique of Romantic conceptions of art and their associated and restrictive humanist politics, and proposes instead a wholly original conception of individual artistic agency defined through materialist terms.

Author Biography

Henry Staten is Byron W. and Alice L. Lockwood Professor in the Humanities, English, University of Washington, USA. His acclaimed first book, Wittgenstein and Derrida (1984) was one of the first philosophical commentaries on deconstruction. Since then his work has ranged widely across literature and philosophy from the Greeks through modernism.
Release date NZ
February 21st, 2019
Country of Publication
United Kingdom
Bloomsbury Academic
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