R.M. Berry and Paul Grimstad
“Stanley Cavell’s Modernism”
In Stanley Cavell’s interpretation, modernism represents the solution to a problem pervasive in modernity but experienced concretely in theater. In this paper, I try to explain how what Cavell has called the problem of the modern subject is solved, in both the arts and philosophy, by the elimination of the audience and discovery of an aesthetic medium.
R.M. Berry is author of the novels Frank (2006), an “unwriting” of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and Leonardo’s Horse, a New York Times “notable book” of 1998, as well as two collections of short fiction,Dictionary of Modern Anguish (2000), described by the Buffalo News as “inspired…by the spirit of Ludwig Wittgenstein,” and Plane Geometry and Other Affairs of the Heart, winner of the 1985 Fiction Collective Prize. He edited the fiction anthology Forms at War:FC2 1999-2009 and, with Jeffrey DiLeo, the critical anthology Fiction’s Present: Situating Contemporary Narrative Innovation (2007). His essays on experimental fiction, Wittgenstein’s philosophy, and Stanley Cavell have appeared in such journals as New Literary History, Philosophy and Literature, Symploké, Narrative, and Soundings, and in such volumes as theOxford Handbook of Philosophy and Literature (2009), Stanley Cavell and Literary Studies (2011), and Ordinary Language Criticism: Literary Thinking After Cavell After Wittgenstein (2003). He is professor and former chair of English at Florida State University and the former director of the independent literary publisher FC2. He and his wife currently divide their time between homes in Atlanta, Georgia and Tallahassee, Florida.
“Is A Genre A Medium?: Modernist Aesthetics in Cavell’s The World Viewed”
I’ll want to look closely at (at least) two aspects of Cavell’s book: his appeal to Baudelaire’s account of modernité as anticipating the Hollywood studio system (in which, Cavell says, “a genre was a medium”) and the “Excursus On modernist painting” which I read alongside arguments about medium specificity found in Clement Greenberg and Michael Fried. I’ll want to argue that Cavell is less *essentialist* about medium specificity than either Greenberg or Fried.