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The Sublime, by Dr Kit Messham-Muir

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Uploaded on Sep 15, 2009

I'm teaching the first year art theory Modernism course at the University of Newcastle. For the lecture in week 3, I discussed the idea of 'the sublime' and how it influenced many romanticist painters in the early nineteenth century, such as JMW Turner and Casper David Friedrich. In their paintings we frequently see idea of the sublime in relation to human vs. nature, with nature inevitably overpowering the hubris of humankind.

The sublime was a strong theme in Romanticism because it was a reponse to the burgeoning of modernity -- reminding us that we might try to tame nature with technology, but ultimately nature is more powerful. It's basically a moral point these artists are making.

Anyway, the important thing about experiences of the sublime is that they combine fear/awe/exhilaration together at the same moment, in which you mind is robbed of its capacity to think. I wanted to give the students a practical demonstration of this to show in the lecture.

So, I made this video.

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