Mimesis: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover


1st Edition

By Matthew Potolsky


192 pages

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pub: 2006-02-23
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A topic that has become increasingly central to the study of art, performance and literature, the term mimesis has long been used to refer to the relationship between an image and its ‘real’ original. However, recent theorists have extended the concept, highlighting new perspectives on key concerns, such as the nature of identity.

Matt Potolsky presents a clear introduction to this potentially daunting concept, examining:

  • the foundations of mimetic theory in ancient philosophy, from Plato to Aristotle
  • three key versions of mimesis: imitatio or rhetorical imitation, theatre and theatricality, and artistic realism
  • the position of mimesis in modern theories of identity and culture, through theorists such as Freud, Lacan, Girard and Baudrillard
  • the possible future of mimetic theory in the concept of ‘memes’, which connects evolutionary biology and theories of cultural reproduction.

A multidisciplinary study of a term rapidly returning to the forefront of contemporary theory, Mimesis is a welcome guide for readers in such fields as literature, performance and cultural studies.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Approaching Mimesis Part 1: Foundations 1. Plato's Republic The Invention of the Image. Poetry and Censorship: Books Two and Three. Mirrors and Forms: Book Ten. Poetry and the City 2. Aristotle’s Poetics Second Nature. Tragedy, Plot, and Reason. The Tragic Effect Part 2: Three Versions of Mimesis 3. Imitatio: Rhetorical Imitation Mimesis as a Cultural Practice. Roman Echoes. Ancients and Moderns. Genius, Originality, and the Anxiety of Influence 4. Theatre and Theatricality Spectacle and Spectator. Theatrum Mundi. Acting, Naturally. 'The Never Ending Show'. 5. Realism The Grapes of Zeuxis. Reflection and Convention. Realism and Sincerity. Pygmalion's Folly: Anti-Realism. Part 3: Mimesis in Modern Theory 6. Mimesis and Identity Psychic Mimesis. Identification: Freud. The Mirror Stage: Lacan. Performing Race and Gender. 7. Mimesis and Culture Sympathetic Magic. Mimicry and the Mimetic Faculty. Mimetic Desire: Girard Simulacra and Hyperreality. Conclusion: Memetics

About the Author/Editor

Matthew Potolsky is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Utah where he teaches literary theory and modern British and comparative literature. He is co-editor of Perennial Decay: On the Aesthetics and Politics of Decadence (1999) and has published on theory and late nineteenth century writing.

About the Series

The New Critical Idiom

The New Critical Idiom is an invaluable series of introductory guides designed to meet the needs of today's students grappling with the complexities of modern critical terminology. Each book in the series provides:

  • A clear, explanatory guide to the use (and abuse) of the term
  • An original and distinctive overview by a leading literary and cultural critic
  • Helpful definitions of the boundaries between the literary and non-literary
  • Basic guidance for the introductory reader in how the term relates to the larger field of cultural representation

With a strong emphasis on clarity, lively debate and the widest possible breadth of examples, The New Critical Idiom is an indispensable guide to key topics in literary studies.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LITERARY CRITICISM / Semiotics & Theory