The moral possibilities of mass art

Lauralin D'Olimpio

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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This Thesis critically examines the moral possibilities of mass art. Mass art is often dismissed by critics as pseudo or ersatz art, described as 'kitsch' and lacking in aesthetic and moral value. I will critically examine several definitions of mass art which argue whether or not mass art can and should be classified as art qua art, and what its moral possibilities are given that definition. I focus my analysis on the theories proposed by Noel Carroll, Clement Greenberg, R. G. Collingwood, Dwight MacDonald, Walter Benjamin, T. W. Adorno and Max Horkheimer with a view to defending a positive account of mass art as art with moral capabilities while also arguing that the ethical concerns raised by Adorno and Horkheimer must be taken seriously. After examining the aesthetic and ethical issues that are raised by mass art and how these inter-relate, I explore the link between aesthetic and ethical education. Drawing upon Martha Nussbaum's theory of literary education, I outline a supplementary moral theory that I term "critical perspectivism" that is particularly applicable to the current world of multiple technological sources and also to engaging with mass artworks. While it may be that only some mass artworks have the capacity for transmitting the types of messages that promote audience cognition and reflection, I maintain this can be beneficial in morally educating an audience and thus valuable for society.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Publication statusUnpublished - 2008


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