The Sublime as Model: Formal Complexity in Joyce, Eisenstein and Stockhausen
Watson, Martin Sharif
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The Sublime as Model: Formal Complexity in Joyce, Eisenstein and Stockhausen, undertakes an investigation of three paradigmatic late-modernist works in three mediums James Joyces novel, Finnegans Wake, Sergei Eisensteins film, Ivan the Terrible I & II, and Karlheinz Stockhausens orchestral work, Gruppen for Three Orchestras with an aim to demonstrating cross-media similarities, and establishing a model for examining their most salient trait: formal complexity. This model is based on a reading of the Kantian mathematical sublime as found in his Critique of the Power of Judgment, as well as borrowing vocabulary from phenomenology, particularly that of Edmund Husserl. After establishing a critical vocabulary based around an analysis of the mathematical sublime and a survey of the phenomenology of Husserl and Heidegger, the dissertation investigates each of the three works and many of their attendant critical works with an aim to illuminate the ways in which their formal complexity can be described, how this type of complexity is particular to late-modernism in general, and these works in particular, and what conclusions can be drawn about the structure and meaning of the works and the critical analyses they accrue. Much of this analysis fits into the rubric of the meta-critical, and there is a strong focus on critical surveys, as the dissertation attempts to provide cross-media models for critical vocabulary, and drawing many examples from extant criticism. The dissertation concludes with reflections on the concept of models for criticism, their construction and their value.