Christianity, Modernity, and the Arts
520 pages, 6.00 x 9.00 , 63 color illustrations, 2 b&w illustrations
Hardcover | 9780268207014 | October 2023
eBook (Web PDF) | 9780268207038 | October 2023
eBook (EPUB) | 9780268207007 | October 2023
- Press Kit
- Author Bio
This book probes the intersection of the beautiful and the ugly, offering a systematic framework to understand, interpret, and evaluate how ugliness can contribute to beautiful art.
Many great artworks include elements of ugliness: repugnant content, disproportionate forms, unresolved dissonance, and unintegrated parts. Mark W. Roche’s authoritative monograph Beautiful Ugliness: Christianity, Modernity, and the Arts challenges current practices of the dominant aesthetic schools by exploring the role of ugliness in art and literature. Roche offers a comprehensive and unique framework that integrates philosophical and theological reflection, intellectual-historical analysis, and interpretations of a large number of works from the arts. The study is driven by the recognition that, though ugliness is usually understood as the opposite of beauty, ugliness nonetheless contributes significantly to the beauty of many artworks.
Roche’s analysis unfolds in three parts. The first offers a refreshing conceptual analysis of ugliness in art. The second considers the history of ugliness in art and literature, with special attention to its role in Christian art and its central place in modern and contemporary art. The third synthesizes earlier material, offering a taxonomy of beautiful ugliness derived from Hegelian philosophical categories. Roche mesmerizes the reader with an extraordinary range of literary scholarship and expertise, with a particular focus on English, Latin, and German literature, and with a broad range of analyzed phenomena, including fine arts, architecture, and music.
Including 63 color illustrations, Beautiful Ugliness will draw in readers from multiple disciplines as well as those from beyond the academy who wish to make sense of today’s complex art world.
Mark William Roche is the Rev. Edmund P. Joyce, C.S.C., Professor of German Language and Literature, concurrent professor of philosophy, and dean emeritus of the College of Arts and Letters at the University of Notre Dame. He is the author of several books, including Realizing the Distinctive University: Vision and Values, Strategy and Culture (University of Notre Dame Press, 2017).
“It is hard to deny that Beautiful Ugliness is an enormously rich, argumentatively dense, and intelligent book that has the power to trigger many discussions. It shows, perhaps precisely through its provocative potential, the enormous power of a rational aesthetics of the ugly.” —Christian Illies, co-author of Philosophy of Architecture
"Probably since Karl Rosenkranz's famous Aesthetics of the Ugly of 1853 no comparable effort has been made to look at the various forms in which ugliness can be used for aesthetic purposes and thus become itself a part of the beautiful. Roche's richly illustrated Beautiful Ugliness is highly recommended to philosophers, theologians, and historians of art and literature." —Vittorio Hösle, author of A Short History of German Philosophy
"There is something refreshing in the Mark Roche's seriousness and audacity in engaging a theme of great interest, too often neglected. The author addresses and overcomes this neglect, addressing the ugly and beauty in an ordered systematic way. I know nothing which matches its range of engagement." —William Desmond, author of Godsends: From Default Atheism to the Surprise of Revelation