"Practical Form" by Abigail Zitin

Practical Form Abstraction, Technique, and Beauty in Eighteenth-Century Aesthetics Abigail Zitin

The Lewis Walpole Series in Eighteenth-Century Culture and History
Publication date:
12 Jan 2021
Yale University Press
248 pages: 235 x 156mm
6 b-w illus.
Sales territories:

A groundbreaking study of the development of form in eighteenth-century aesthetics
In this original work, Abigail Zitin proposes a new history of the development of form as a concept in and for aesthetics. Her account substitutes women and artisans for the proverbial man of taste, asserting them as central figures in the rise of aesthetics as a field of philosophical inquiry in eighteenth-century Europe. She shows how the idea of formal abstraction so central to conceptions of beauty in this period emerges from the way practitioners think about craft and skill across the domestic, industrial, and so-called high arts. Zitin elegantly maps the complex connections among aesthetics, form, and formalism, drawing out the understated presence of practice in the writings of major eighteenth-century thinkers including Locke, Addison, Burke, and Kant. This new take on an old story ultimately challenges readers to reconsider form and why it matters.

Abigail Zitin is associate professor of English at Rutgers University.