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Affective Aesthetics

  • Version 1.0
  • published March 28, 2024

1. Definitions1This article is based on the introductory chapter to: Aurnhammer, Achim et al.: Ästhetiken des Heroischen. Darstellung – Affizierung – Gesellschaft. Göttingen 2024: Wallstein. Göttingen 2024: Wallstein.

A hero is someone who stands out from the crowd and above the normal and achieves extraordinary things (⟶hero). Heroes question and transgress the limits of normality (⟶transgressiveness). They thus arouse an audience’s attention, affects and feelings (⟶attraction): amazement and awe or abhorrence and terror; sympathy and empathy or antipathy; admiration and adoration or rejection. There is a fundamental, intense affectivity inherent in the heroic, and this explains the social significance of heroized figures.2See also Falkenhayner, Nicole: “What is the ‘Hero Affect’? Outlining a Research Perspective on the Affective Role of Heroizations in Contemporary European Popular Culture.” In: Journal of European Popular Culture 11.2 (2020), 85-90. DOI: 10.1386/jepc_00018_2

Situations in which ⟶heroization occurs can therefore be described as ‘affective arrangements’. This term refers to the way in which affect is produced, modulated and shaped in specific socio-material constellations.3Slaby, Jan / Mühlhoff, Rainer / Wüschner, Philipp: “Affective Arrangements”. In: Emotion Review 11.1 (2019) 3-12. DOI: 10.1177/1754073917722214; see also the relevant entries in: Sonderforschungsbereich 1171 (Ed.): Affective Societies: Key Concepts Online, Berlin (online at: https://key-concepts.sfb-affective-societies.de, accessed on 25.01.2024). Affective arrangements are realms of affective intensity, determined by “heterogeneous ensembles of diverse materials forming a local layout”.4Slaby et al.: “Affective Arrangements”, 2019, 3; see pp. 3-4 for the following quotes. They comprise “persons, things, artifacts, spaces, discourses, behaviours, and expressions in a characteristic mode of composition and dynamic relatedness” and “bring multiple actors into a dynamic, orchestrated conjunction, so that these actors’ mutual affecting and being affected is the central dimension of the arrangement from the start.” Forms of expression are an essential part of affective arrangements, not least with regard to heroization.

2. Aesthetic-affective arrangements

In order to become perceptible and effective, a heroization needs to be expressed and presented (⟶hero: The constitution of the heroic by media and communication).5See also Drucker, Susan J. / Cathcart, Robert S.: “The hero as a communication phenomenon.” In: Drucker and Cathcart (Eds.): American Heroes in a Media Age. Cresskill 1994: Hampton, 1-14. Hence, a heroization also requires an aspect appreciable to one or more of the senses, an aspect that is generally of great importance for affective effects.6Göbel, Hanna Katharina / Prinz, Sophia (Eds.): Die Sinnlichkeit des Sozialen. Wahrnehmung und materielle Kultur. Bielefeld 2015: Transcript. This sensory aspect can be referred to as aesthetics, derived from the basic meaning of the Greek aísthesis. Aesthetics refers to that dimension of a representation that directly appeals to the senses and thereby affects. It is expressed in the form of a representation and becomes effective in its reception. The aesthetics of a representation can reinforce and complement its meanings, but it is also effective in and of itself.7Also cf. the following study, which takes a slightly different approach to the aesthetics of the heroic: Immer, Nikolas / van Marwyck, Mareen (Eds.): Ästhetischer Heroismus. Konzeptionelle und figurative Paradigmen des Helden. Bielefeld 2013: Transcript. Such understanding of aesthetics follows the concept of “aisthetics” with which recent research has contributed to a general theory of perception.8Seel, Martin: Ästhetik des Erscheinens. Munich 2000: Hanser (Seel, Martin: Aesthetics of Appearing, translated by John Farrell. Stanford 2004: Stanford University Press); Böhme, Gernot: Aisthetik. Vorlesungen über Ästhetik als allgemeine Wahrnehmungslehre. Munich 2001: Fink; cf. also Gernot Böhme: The Aesthetics of Atmospheres. London 2017: Routledge. An “aisthetic” analysis focuses on the appearance of a representation as such, i.e. its perception by a recipient, understood as an immediately arousing, sensory effect of resonance. Martin Seel defines “aisthetics” as the sense-guided attention to how something shows itself in the fullness of its appearing and thereby becomes perceptible – in contrast to the conceptual understanding of what things are.

The interaction of aesthetics and the social in processes of heroization can be apprehended using the concept of aesthetic-affective arrangements; it adapts and expands the  concept of affective arrangements that was originally developed for empirical social studies:

1. In representations of the heroic, the process of affecting and being affected takes place through texts, images, films, music, things, etc. (⟶hero: The constitution of the heroic by media and communication). The effect of such representations is not one-dimensional in the sense that only the audience is affected; effects on the representation are normally restricted to specific actualisations or appropriations of their semantic and expressive potential. A direct impact on a material representation occurs in iconoclasm, i.e. when the representation is intentionally damaged for purposes of protest or when a planned representation is not realised or finished.

2. In literary and visual studies, the effect or impact of a representation is discussed under the term reception. Processes of reception can be observed and their history can be described. Reception studies can be conducted on the basis of concrete statements, if such are available.9 Jauß, Hans Robert: Literaturgeschichte als Provokation, Frankfurt a. M. 1970: Suhrkamp; Groeben, Norbert: Rezeptionsforschung als empirische Literaturwissenschaft: Paradigma- durch Methodendiskussion an Untersuchungsbeispielen. 2nd ed. Tübingen 1980: Narr; Birkner, Thomas et al. (Eds.): Historische Medienwirkungsforschung. Ansätze, Methoden und Quellen. Cologne 2020: Herbert von Halem Verlag. This is not possible, or only to a limited extent, for representations from past cultures. In general, the range of responses a representation may elicit can only be reconstructed from historical evidence or, in reception aesthetics, through the concept of so-called implied recipients, who can be reconstructed from the way in which a representation structures and anticipates responses.10Iser, Wolfgang: Der implizite Leser. Kommunikationsformen des Romans von Bunyan bis Beckett. Munich 1972: Fink (Iser, Wolfgang: The Implied Reader: Patterns of Communication in Prose Fiction from Bunyan to Beckett. Baltimore 1974: Johns Hopkins University Press); Kemp, Wolfgang (Ed.): Der Betrachter ist im Bild. Kunstwissenschaft und Rezeptionsästhetik. Berlin 1992: Reimer; Kemp, Wolfgang: “Kunstwerk und Betrachter: Der rezeptionsästhetische Ansatz”. In: Belting, Hans et al. (Eds.): Kunstgeschichte. Eine Einführung. 6th ed. Berlin 2003: Reimer, 247-265.

3. In representations of the heroic, affective arrangements can overlap: on the one hand, the arrangement of communication between the representation and the recipient (external arrangement), and on the other hand arrangements that are depicted in a representation itself (internal arrangement), for example in scenes of adulation or veneration. There may be tension between the two arrangements, but tension can also be bridged.

4. Investigating the aesthetic-affective arrangements of a heroizing representation involves its entire communicative context and composition, including cultural codes, horizons of expectation, realms of experience and affective dispositions, but also genre conventions, medial prerequisites or paradigms of emotion.

5. In aesthetic-affective arrangements of heroizing representations, concrete reception settings are just as constitutive as social constellations and they are closely linked to each other: For example, was a representation created for a specific location, and what is the concrete relationship to this location? What changes occur when the representation is received in another location than the original one, for example in a museum instead of a sacral space? Was a representation intended for collective reception (in the cinema, the theatre or in a church) or for individual reception, for example when reading a novel? Are a representation and an audience co-present, as in the theatre or in a museum, and what consequences does this have for the representation’s potential to affect?

6. The historicity of aesthetic-affective arrangements is of great relevance for a diachronic perspective on the heroic. It requires detailed analysis of the traditions, influences and semantic charge that shape the components of a specific arrangement.

7. The spatial, temporal and cultural factors in aesthetic-affective arrangements of heroizing representations multiply when the constellations of creation and reception diverge. Depending on how large the divergence is, recipients may not be able to fully actualise the originally intended meaning, or they actualise it in a different way than the intended audience. This is due not only to different meanings of signs and codes, but also to dispositions of the recipients, such as their expectations and knowledge, including the knowledge of aesthetic conventions. Conversely, a reception close in time to when a representation was created can have an actuality effect.

8. Affective arrangements are “zones of higher relative intensity”11Slaby et al.: “Affective Arrangements”, 2019, 5. of affectivity. When examining aesthetic-affective arrangements of the heroic, one should therefore ask about aesthetic intensifications of affectivity.

9. The original concept of affective arrangements does not focus on aesthetics, but considers them an important factor. For example, affective arrangements have been observed to generate affective “atmospheres” or “tonalities” and to constitute a “sphere of resonance”.12Slaby et al.: “Affective Arrangements”, 2019, 3-9 (with note 24). This is of great relevance for an investigation into affective aesthetics. Atmospheres are what sensorily brings together all elements of a representation, as well as previous knowledge and traditions, expectations and experiences. Atmosphere is a mood that shapes the communication process, a state of being moved that creates a resonance between a recipient and what is perceived.13Gernot Böhme: Atmosphäre. Essays zur neuen Ästhetik. Frankfurt a. M. 1995: Suhrkamp; according to Böhme, atmosphere is a central object of “aisthetic” analysis. See also Bulka, Thomas: Stimmung, Emotion, Atmosphäre. Phänomenologische Untersuchungen. Münster 2015: Mentis; Riedl, Friedlind: “Atmosphere.” In: Slaby, Jan / von Scheve, Christian (Eds.): Affective Societies. Key Concepts. London 2018: Routledge, 85-95. It can be described as that which surrounds recipients and what they perceive, and so creates an emotional space of perception.

The elements of a representation are in many respects not specific to heroic depiction. The intense affectivity of a heroic-aesthetic arrangement is often just the result of an accumulation of elements that interact with each other in complex ways. But there are means of representation that have a particular potential for heroization, for example because they have a transgressive quality (e.g. break conventions or create surprise), because they focus attention, generate presence or dynamisms (e.g. in the action, the motion within a picture, or in terms of sound and volume), or because they signal extraordinariness and excess (e.g. through the size of a representation, an elevated style or an effect of radiance).

3. Elements of aesthetic-affective arrangements

The following is an overview of elements that can contribute to the affectivity of heroizing representations. This list is neither comprehensive nor exhaustive, but it can be used as a ‘toolbox’ to examine the affective aesthetics of such representations. Their affective potential is determined by (A) elements of content (characters, action and spatiotemporal setting); (B) the sensorily perceptible dimension of the representation (basic representational modes such as telling, showing, performing and evoking; materiality; mediality and modality; formal-structural means); and (C) relationships between representations, notably intertextuality and prefiguration.

(A) The affective potential of character, action and spatiotemporal setting
The qualities of a human figure form the nucleus of ⟶heroization. A representation imbues the character with heroic features that distinguish them from ordinary people (⟶heroic qualities). If this distinction already has a potential to affect, this is further increased when heroic figures are at the centre of the action and have the greatest ⟶agency. Visual depictions and detailed verbal descriptions can emphasise the body of heroic figures and its expressive potential. The heroic body can be characterised by extraordinary size and strength, by special movements and gestures, or by beauty and eroticism. Heroic ⟶corporeality is often associated with a willingness to suffer physical ⟶violence and with overwhelming, often existential experiences of suffering, compassion and pain14See, for example, Giesen, Bernhard: Triumph and Trauma. Boulder, Colorado 2004: Paradigm., and hence with the motifs of sacrifice and ⟶death as extreme human experiences.15See, for example, Brink, Cornelia et al. (Eds.): Helden müssen sterben. Von Sinn und Fragwürdigkeit des heroischen Todes. Baden-Baden 2019: Ergon; Falkenhayner, Nicole et al. “Heroism – Violence – Mediality. Working Paper of the Collaborative Working Group on Mediality”. In: helden. heroes. héros. E-Journal zu Kulturen des Heroischen, Special Issue 5 (2019): Analyzing Processes of Heroization. Theories, Methods, Histories, 69-78. DOI: 10.6094/helden.heroes.heros./2019/APH/08; Gölz, Olmo / Brink, Cornelia (Eds.): Gewalt und Heldentum. Baden-Baden 2020: Ergon.

However, heroic figures also have physical and psychological qualities in common with ordinary people. They are defined by their origin, gender, age or social roles (with consequences for their heroizability). They are mortal and vulnerable, and they show feelings that recipients can comprehend. Such commonalities with ordinary people enable recipients to act and react towards heroes. If the heroic is transferred to things, animals, landscapes or music16On heroic music see Betz, Albrecht: “Musikhelden und Heldenmusik”. In: Bohrer, Karl Heinz / Scheel, Kurt (Eds.): Heldengedenken. Über das heroische Phantasma, Merkur 63, Heft 9/10 (2009), 916-924., these too acquire a human trait and thus an increased affectivity.

Heroic figures can be depicted alone or in relation to others. They can appear distanced from others, and such isolation draws attention to them and reinforces the extraordinary nature of their being and deeds. Constellations of characters can also have affective effects. The most powerful one, arguably, is the relationship between hero and antagonist(s); it is not only marked by contrast and competition, but can also display parallels when opponents have the same ⟶(heroic) qualities, like the many competing ⟶heroes in Homer’s Iliad. The opponents of heroes can also be non-human, like dragons and other monsters or natural forces. This can contribute to an effect of sublimity or enhance the potential for affective identification with the human hero, but also emphasise the polarities between human and inhuman, or self and other.

The character set of many heroic representations includes mentors who guide heroes in important decisions and thus show that even extraordinary figures are not above doubts and mistakes. Helper figures (companions, sidekicks) actively support heroes without ever being as great as them; they can also have a contrasting, complementary or confirming effect. Assistant figures can help bridge the distance between heroes and ordinary people or enhance the heroic character’s emotions positively or negatively. Intermediary figures signal to the recipients how they should react to the heroic figure, for example with ⟶admiration and adoration, and draw them into the affective community depicted in the representation.

The actions of a heroic figure are another ⟶constitutive factor of their heroization. The depiction of heroic action has a particularly high affective potential when the hero has transgressive experiences or crosses boundaries (⟶transgressiveness). Agonal confrontations or contests in which heroes prove their superiority are a typical element of heroizing representation. They create polarities that encourage recipients to take sides. This also happens when representations show the moments succeeding or preceding a heroic act. The latter illuminate how suspense is another affecting element, since the question of the outcome of the ⟶heroic deed is raised. Adventure is one of the typical paradigms of heroic action;17Koppenfels, Martin von / Mühlbacher, Manuel (Eds.): Abenteuer. Erzählmuster, Formprinzip, Genre. Paderborn 2019: Brill / Fink. the affinity between the heroic and adventure is exemplified in the concept of the so-called hero’s journey.18The concept of the hero’s journey goes back to Joseph Campbell’s “The Hero with a Thousand Faces” (1949). The contrast between a single heroic deed and an extensive hero’s journey illustrates that heroic action has different inherent dynamics: the isolated act involves recipients for a brief moment; the duration of a journey, as in the Aeneid or in Lord of the Rings, enables changing rhythms between exciting moments and quieter phases of action and engages recipients above all through their anticipation of the outcome of the journey, their continuous participation in the fate of the heroes, or through alternating levels of affective intensity.

All action takes place in a spatiotemporal world. If a heroic act is far removed from the recipients’ lifeworld, or if it takes place in an entirely fantastic world, this can evoke the attraction or repulsion of the strange and unusual, as for instance in the Heracles myth. If the world of heroic action is familiar, the potential for identification increases, but the heroic also appears closer to ordinary experience. Mythical worlds can suggest timelessness or universality and thus, despite their distance from the recipients’ real-life experiences, open up a range of possible references.

(B) Modes and means of representation
The heroic can be represented in the modes of telling, showing and performing. These modes are not identical with ⟶genres, and they often occur in mixed form. In addition to these mimetic modes, in which the heroic manifests itself concretely, the heroic is sometimes only evoked, for example in certain music or a sublime landscape. The evocative mode can also have a strong affective force and increase the effect of the mimetic modes.

Narration is, arguably, the most fundamental mode of heroic representation. Heroes, and above all their deeds and achievements, are the subject of storytelling. Narratives (in epics, novels, dramas or films) present action with more or less explicit narrative agents and different narrative perspectives.19See, for example, Genette, Gérard: Narrative Discourse. An Essay in Method. Ithaca 1988: Cornell UP; Martínez, Matías: Handbuch Erzählliteratur. Theorie, Analyse, Geschichte. Stuttgart 2011: Metzler. This has consequences for a recipient’s closeness or distance to heroized characters and the possibility of feeling sympathy, empathy or compassion for them. Sculptures and paintings can evoke a narrative through references to past or future events or through the suggestion of motion. Due to its experientiality,20On the concept of experientiality see Fludernik, Monika: Towards a ‘Natural’ Narratology. London 1996: Routledge. the narrative mode has a high potential for identification. Of all the representational modes, it also has the strongest potential for temporal effects, for example in the relationship between narrative and narrated time or through the creation of dynamics and rhythms.

The mode of showing is inherent to all representations that require visual perception, i.e. that physically show themselves to an audience.21Wiesing, Lambert: Sehen lassen. Die Praxis des Zeigens. Berlin 2013: Suhrkamp. This primarily refers to images be they still or moving. What is crucial in this mode is the direct sensory presence of a depiction – and the depicted – through being seen. Due to both depiction and the depicted, the showing of heroic figures enables effects with a strong sensory-affective character (evidence).22On visual evidence see Krüger, Klaus: Politik der Evidenz. Öffentliche Bilder als Bilder der Öffentlichkeit im Trecento. Göttingen 2015: Wallstein; Krüger, Klaus: Grazia. ReligiöseErfahrung und ästhetische Evidenz. Göttingen 2016: Wallstein, as well as the results of the DFG research group “BildEvidenz. History and Aesthetics” (online at: http://bildevidenz.de, accessed on 30.11.2023). Pictorial representation has a special closeness to life and corporeal experience; pictures make heroes visible in their physicality and often at the very moment of carrying out their deeds; they are shown in motion, in poses or with certain gestures23See, for example, Marstaller, Vera / Safaian, Dorna (Eds.): Heroische Gesten. Formensprachen politischer Körperlichkeit. heroes. heroes. hero. Special Issue 9 (2023). DOI: 10.6094/helden.heroes.heros./2023/HG or in significant moments of their appearance. However, the showing mode also tends towards concretisation, individualisation and historical disambiguation, meaning that the potential to identify with a heroic figure or the appeal of the heroic may be less direct. The visual perspective of an image can suggest a seemingly immediate, experiential way of seeing and thus also give the heroic a strong presence and evidence. While static images may also contain narrative elements, they are dominated by their descriptive character, which makes qualities and iconographic references beyond narration just as strong as – or even stronger than – temporal dimensions.24Giuliani, Luca: Bild und Mythos. Geschichte der Bilderzählung in der griechischen Kunst. Munich 2003: Beck. In the case of a still image, the showing mode enables a temporally extended ‘reading’ with a wandering gaze,25Grave, Johannes: Bild und Zeit. Eine Theorie des Bildbetrachtens. Munich 2022: Beck. but also a more or less momentary perception ‘at a glance’, which largely ignores the temporal dimension in perception and thus possibly also reduces the distance between the viewer and the hero.

The mode of performance – presentation via bodily action and expression – is closely linked with showing and telling. Here, the heroic has an even stronger, immediate physical presence that is particularly intense for a co-present audience, for example in the theatre.26See, for example, Fischer-Lichte, Erika: Ästhetik des Performativen. Frankfurt a. M. 2004: Suhrkamp; cf. Fischer-Lichte, Erika: The Transformative Power of Performance: A New Aesthetics. London 2018: Routledge. Performative expression of the heroic also occurs in real social space (e.g. in public speech or cultic ceremony), but as a mode of presentation, performance is primarily associated with the stage (theatre, ⟶opera). The focus is on the actions of heroic characters and their interaction with other figures. Body, body language, voice, costume, scenery, music and stage lighting complement each other in their effects, which appeal to different senses (modality). In theatrical performance, the identification potential and presence effects of the mimetic are therefore particularly strong. Performed instrumental music, on the other hand, affects people primarily through evocation.

Evocation is the suggestion of something that is not concretely present, such as moods, associations and emotions, which are not necessarily tied to a specific heroic figure or deed: “Evocation is neither presentation nor representation. It presents no objects and represents none, yet it makes available through absence what can be conceived but not presented.”27Tyler, Stephen A.: “Post-Modern Ethnography. From Document of the Occult to Occult Document.” In: Clifford, James / Marcus, George E. (Eds.): Writing Culture. The Poetics and Politics of Ethnography. Berkeley 1986: University of California Press, 122-138 (at 123); see also Tyler, Stephen A.: The Unspeakable. Discourse, Dialogue, and Rhetoric in the Postmodern World. Madison 1987: The University of Wisconsin Press; also cf. Rautzenberg, Markus: “Zur non-visuellen Macht der Bilder – Eine Forschungsskizze”. In: Hanich, Julian / Wulff, Hans Jürgen (Eds.): Auslassen, Andeuten, Auffüllen. Der Film und die Imagination des Zuschauers. Munich 2012: Fink, 49-68, and the DFG network “Zwischen Präsenz und Evokation”, online at: https://www.geschkult.fu-berlin.de/e/praesenz-und-evokation (accessed on 15.10.2023). The evocative mode works implicitly and suggestively by calling up ⟶qualities of the heroic (extraordinariness, transgressiveness or sublimity) or phenomena associated with the heroic, such as agonality and suspense. Evocation is interiorised and thus experienced as particularly intense and immediate. One does not necessarily identify with a figure, but with a mood that manifests itself in sounds, colours or space.28On the evocative potential of music, see Betz: “Musikhelden”, 2009. The mode of evocation therefore has a particularly close connection to the atmospheric component of the aesthetic. This mode also occurs in conjunction with the other representational modes of the heroic and can increase their affectivity.

The above-mentioned basic modes of (re)presentation always manifest themselves in a specific material or medial form, making use of different sign systems and codes. The materiality of a representation29See, for example, Karagianni, Angeliki et al.: “Materialität.” In: Meier, Thomas et al. (Eds.): Materiale Textkulturen. Konzepte – Materialien – Praktiken, Berlin 2015: de Gruyter, 33-46. DOI: 10.1515/9783110371291 and its mediality have their own inherent expressivity. It makes a difference whether the statue of a hero is made of marble or a less valuable material and whether gilding makes it radiant30On the golden radiance of heroic statues, see, for example, Hubert, Hans W.: “Sanktifizierung als Heroisierung? Die Statuen Papst Bonifaz’ VIII. zwischen Bildnispolitik und Idolatrie.” In: Aurnhammer, Achim / Bröckling, Ulrich (Eds.): Vom Weihegefäß zur Drohne. Kulturen des Heroischen und ihre Objekte. Würzburg 2016: Ergon, 58-82. or not. The affective potential of a representation hinges not only on its own colour or haptic effects but also the materialities it mimetically evokes.

Media are not just the carriers of a message but generate excess meaning and their own effects. Highly intense and complex effects arise in multi- and intermedial representations,31On intermediality see, for example, Rajewsky, Irina O.: Intermedialität. Tübingen 2002: Francke; Fischer, Carolin et al. (Eds.): Produktive Rezeption. Imitatio, Intertextualität, Intermedialität. Konzepte der Rezeption. Vol. 1. Tübingen 2015: Stauffenburg. where the properties of different means of expression and communication combine and mix, meaning that the senses are addressed in multiple ways (multimodality).32Elleström, Lars: “The Modalities of Media. A Model for Understanding Intermedial Relations.” In: Elleström, Lars (Ed.): Media Borders, Multimodality and Intermediality. Basingstoke 2010: Palgrave Macmillan, 11-48.

Finally, the affective force of heroizing representation depends on the formal means used on both the micro- and macrostructural levels. Some of these means have a special affinity to the heroic, such as the genre of the epic. A momentary increase in affect can be brought about by crossing communication boundaries and breaking conventions, by making use of contrasts, parallels and repetitions, dynamisms, effects of size33Cancik, Hubert: “Größe und Kolossalität als religiöse und ästhetische Kategorien”. In: Visible Religion 7 (1990), 51-68. and radiance34See, for example, Hecht, Christian: Die Glorie. Begriff, Thema, Bildelement in der europäischen Sakralkunst vom Mittelalter bis zum Ausgang des Barock. Regensburg 2003: Schnell & Steiner; Warland, Rainer: “Nimbus”. In: Reallexikon für Antike und Christentum. Vol. 25. Stuttgart 2013: Hiersemann, 915-938; Lechtermann, Christina / Wandhoff, Heiko (Eds.): Licht, Glanz, Blendung. Beiträge zu einer Kulturgeschichte des Leuchtenden. Frankfurt a. M. 2008: Peter Lang.. Heroization can also be an effect of perspective. In the showing mode, for example, it can be achieved through a view from below that suggests size or superiority (as in a cinematic hero shot), while a seemingly ‘unmediated’ view (picture-as-window) suggests a direct perception of and participation in the event and generates an effect of strong presence and evidence.

(C) Intertextuality and prefiguration
Beyond the individual representation, affectivity can be the result of references to other representations, i.e. intertextuality understood in a broad sense that encompasses images and music.35Fischer et al.: Produktive Rezeption, 2015; Isekenmeier, Guido et al. (Eds.): Intertextualität und Intermedialität. Theoretische Grundlagen – Exemplarische Analysen. Berlin 2021: Metzler. See also Isekenmeier, Guido: Interpiktorialität. Theorie und Geschichte der Bild-Bild-Bezüge. Bielefeld 2013: Transcript; Ulrich, Anna Valentine: Gebaute Zitate. Formen und Funktionen des Zitierens in Musik, Bild und Architektur. Bielefeld 2015: Transcript; Isekenmeier, Guido et al. (Eds.): Intertextualität und Intermedialität. Theoretische Grundlagen – Exemplarische Analysen. Berlin 2021: Metzler. Intertextuality can arise through reference to cultural patterns, but it manifests itself most strikingly in the relationship between specific representations.36See, for example, Genette, Gérard: Palimpsests. Literature in the Second Degree. Lincoln 1997: University of Nebraska Press. This can suggest historical references, but more basically, calling up what is already known leads to effects of recognition and, possibly, semantic disturbance, both of which have a high potential to affect.

In many cases, intertextuality goes hand in hand with ⟶prefiguration, as in the case of a ‘new’ Heracles or Napoleon. Hans Blumenberg sees prefiguration as a “singular instrument of justification in weakly motivated actions”,37Blumenberg, Hans: Präfiguration. Arbeit am politischen Mythos. Berlin 2014: Suhrkamp, 10, and for the following 14. i.e. a rhetorical device to create acceptance for actions. In the context of the heroic, this particularly refers to references between a source and a target figure that heroizes the latter and secures or modifies its heroic status.38von den Hoff, Ralf et al.: “Imitatio heroica – Zur Reichweite eines kulturellen Phänomens.” In: von den Hoff, Ralf et al. (Eds.): Imitatio heroica. Heldenangleichung im Bildnis. Baden-Baden 2015: Ergon, 9-33. In this sense, prefiguration is an instrument of legitimising rhetoric that can make heroizations plausible. Similar to intertextuality, prefiguration opens up zones of resonance in which intellectual scrutiny of the heroic is stimulated. However, the (apparent) familiarity of the prefigurant (or a variation thereof) can also provoke affective response. This happens not only when heroic figures or their deeds are concretely named, but also through reference to iconic situations, depictions or motifs that have congealed into fixed heroic formulas; this has been shown in the study of pathos formulae (Aby Warburg) as an “intensification mode for the representation of affective events”.39Schankweiler, Kerstin / Wüschner, Philipp: “Pathosformel”. In: Sonderforschungsbereich 1171 (Ed): Affective Societies: Key Concepts Online. Berlin 04.01.2023, online at: https://key-concepts.sfb-affective-societies.de/articles/pathosformel-version-1-0 (quote; accessed on 18.09.2023); Schankweiler, Kerstin / Wüschner, Philipp: “Images that move. Analyzing affect with Aby Warburg”. In: Kahl, Antje (Ed.): Analyzing Affective Societies. Methods and Methodologies. London/New York 2019: Routledge, 101-119; Schankweiler, Kerstin / Wüschner, Philipp: “Pathosformel (pathos formula)”. In: Slaby, Jan / von Scheve, Christian (Eds.): Affective Societies. Key Concepts. London/New York 2019: Routledge, 220-230.

4. References

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    This article is based on the introductory chapter to: Aurnhammer, Achim et al.: Ästhetiken des Heroischen. Darstellung – Affizierung – Gesellschaft. Göttingen 2024: Wallstein. Göttingen 2024: Wallstein.
  • 2
    See also Falkenhayner, Nicole: “What is the ‘Hero Affect’? Outlining a Research Perspective on the Affective Role of Heroizations in Contemporary European Popular Culture.” In: Journal of European Popular Culture 11.2 (2020), 85-90. DOI: 10.1386/jepc_00018_2
  • 3
    Slaby, Jan / Mühlhoff, Rainer / Wüschner, Philipp: “Affective Arrangements”. In: Emotion Review 11.1 (2019) 3-12. DOI: 10.1177/1754073917722214; see also the relevant entries in: Sonderforschungsbereich 1171 (Ed.): Affective Societies: Key Concepts Online, Berlin (online at: https://key-concepts.sfb-affective-societies.de, accessed on 25.01.2024).
  • 4
    Slaby et al.: “Affective Arrangements”, 2019, 3; see pp. 3-4 for the following quotes.
  • 5
    See also Drucker, Susan J. / Cathcart, Robert S.: “The hero as a communication phenomenon.” In: Drucker and Cathcart (Eds.): American Heroes in a Media Age. Cresskill 1994: Hampton, 1-14.
  • 6
    Göbel, Hanna Katharina / Prinz, Sophia (Eds.): Die Sinnlichkeit des Sozialen. Wahrnehmung und materielle Kultur. Bielefeld 2015: Transcript.
  • 7
    Also cf. the following study, which takes a slightly different approach to the aesthetics of the heroic: Immer, Nikolas / van Marwyck, Mareen (Eds.): Ästhetischer Heroismus. Konzeptionelle und figurative Paradigmen des Helden. Bielefeld 2013: Transcript.
  • 8
    Seel, Martin: Ästhetik des Erscheinens. Munich 2000: Hanser (Seel, Martin: Aesthetics of Appearing, translated by John Farrell. Stanford 2004: Stanford University Press); Böhme, Gernot: Aisthetik. Vorlesungen über Ästhetik als allgemeine Wahrnehmungslehre. Munich 2001: Fink; cf. also Gernot Böhme: The Aesthetics of Atmospheres. London 2017: Routledge.
  • 9
     Jauß, Hans Robert: Literaturgeschichte als Provokation, Frankfurt a. M. 1970: Suhrkamp; Groeben, Norbert: Rezeptionsforschung als empirische Literaturwissenschaft: Paradigma- durch Methodendiskussion an Untersuchungsbeispielen. 2nd ed. Tübingen 1980: Narr; Birkner, Thomas et al. (Eds.): Historische Medienwirkungsforschung. Ansätze, Methoden und Quellen. Cologne 2020: Herbert von Halem Verlag.
  • 10
    Iser, Wolfgang: Der implizite Leser. Kommunikationsformen des Romans von Bunyan bis Beckett. Munich 1972: Fink (Iser, Wolfgang: The Implied Reader: Patterns of Communication in Prose Fiction from Bunyan to Beckett. Baltimore 1974: Johns Hopkins University Press); Kemp, Wolfgang (Ed.): Der Betrachter ist im Bild. Kunstwissenschaft und Rezeptionsästhetik. Berlin 1992: Reimer; Kemp, Wolfgang: “Kunstwerk und Betrachter: Der rezeptionsästhetische Ansatz”. In: Belting, Hans et al. (Eds.): Kunstgeschichte. Eine Einführung. 6th ed. Berlin 2003: Reimer, 247-265.
  • 11
    Slaby et al.: “Affective Arrangements”, 2019, 5.
  • 12
    Slaby et al.: “Affective Arrangements”, 2019, 3-9 (with note 24).
  • 13
    Gernot Böhme: Atmosphäre. Essays zur neuen Ästhetik. Frankfurt a. M. 1995: Suhrkamp; according to Böhme, atmosphere is a central object of “aisthetic” analysis. See also Bulka, Thomas: Stimmung, Emotion, Atmosphäre. Phänomenologische Untersuchungen. Münster 2015: Mentis; Riedl, Friedlind: “Atmosphere.” In: Slaby, Jan / von Scheve, Christian (Eds.): Affective Societies. Key Concepts. London 2018: Routledge, 85-95.
  • 14
    See, for example, Giesen, Bernhard: Triumph and Trauma. Boulder, Colorado 2004: Paradigm.
  • 15
    See, for example, Brink, Cornelia et al. (Eds.): Helden müssen sterben. Von Sinn und Fragwürdigkeit des heroischen Todes. Baden-Baden 2019: Ergon; Falkenhayner, Nicole et al. “Heroism – Violence – Mediality. Working Paper of the Collaborative Working Group on Mediality”. In: helden. heroes. héros. E-Journal zu Kulturen des Heroischen, Special Issue 5 (2019): Analyzing Processes of Heroization. Theories, Methods, Histories, 69-78. DOI: 10.6094/helden.heroes.heros./2019/APH/08; Gölz, Olmo / Brink, Cornelia (Eds.): Gewalt und Heldentum. Baden-Baden 2020: Ergon.
  • 16
    On heroic music see Betz, Albrecht: “Musikhelden und Heldenmusik”. In: Bohrer, Karl Heinz / Scheel, Kurt (Eds.): Heldengedenken. Über das heroische Phantasma, Merkur 63, Heft 9/10 (2009), 916-924.
  • 17
    Koppenfels, Martin von / Mühlbacher, Manuel (Eds.): Abenteuer. Erzählmuster, Formprinzip, Genre. Paderborn 2019: Brill / Fink.
  • 18
    The concept of the hero’s journey goes back to Joseph Campbell’s “The Hero with a Thousand Faces” (1949).
  • 19
    See, for example, Genette, Gérard: Narrative Discourse. An Essay in Method. Ithaca 1988: Cornell UP; Martínez, Matías: Handbuch Erzählliteratur. Theorie, Analyse, Geschichte. Stuttgart 2011: Metzler.
  • 20
    On the concept of experientiality see Fludernik, Monika: Towards a ‘Natural’ Narratology. London 1996: Routledge.
  • 21
    Wiesing, Lambert: Sehen lassen. Die Praxis des Zeigens. Berlin 2013: Suhrkamp.
  • 22
    On visual evidence see Krüger, Klaus: Politik der Evidenz. Öffentliche Bilder als Bilder der Öffentlichkeit im Trecento. Göttingen 2015: Wallstein; Krüger, Klaus: Grazia. ReligiöseErfahrung und ästhetische Evidenz. Göttingen 2016: Wallstein, as well as the results of the DFG research group “BildEvidenz. History and Aesthetics” (online at: http://bildevidenz.de, accessed on 30.11.2023).
  • 23
    See, for example, Marstaller, Vera / Safaian, Dorna (Eds.): Heroische Gesten. Formensprachen politischer Körperlichkeit. heroes. heroes. hero. Special Issue 9 (2023). DOI: 10.6094/helden.heroes.heros./2023/HG
  • 24
    Giuliani, Luca: Bild und Mythos. Geschichte der Bilderzählung in der griechischen Kunst. Munich 2003: Beck.
  • 25
    Grave, Johannes: Bild und Zeit. Eine Theorie des Bildbetrachtens. Munich 2022: Beck.
  • 26
    See, for example, Fischer-Lichte, Erika: Ästhetik des Performativen. Frankfurt a. M. 2004: Suhrkamp; cf. Fischer-Lichte, Erika: The Transformative Power of Performance: A New Aesthetics. London 2018: Routledge.
  • 27
    Tyler, Stephen A.: “Post-Modern Ethnography. From Document of the Occult to Occult Document.” In: Clifford, James / Marcus, George E. (Eds.): Writing Culture. The Poetics and Politics of Ethnography. Berkeley 1986: University of California Press, 122-138 (at 123); see also Tyler, Stephen A.: The Unspeakable. Discourse, Dialogue, and Rhetoric in the Postmodern World. Madison 1987: The University of Wisconsin Press; also cf. Rautzenberg, Markus: “Zur non-visuellen Macht der Bilder – Eine Forschungsskizze”. In: Hanich, Julian / Wulff, Hans Jürgen (Eds.): Auslassen, Andeuten, Auffüllen. Der Film und die Imagination des Zuschauers. Munich 2012: Fink, 49-68, and the DFG network “Zwischen Präsenz und Evokation”, online at: https://www.geschkult.fu-berlin.de/e/praesenz-und-evokation (accessed on 15.10.2023).
  • 28
    On the evocative potential of music, see Betz: “Musikhelden”, 2009.
  • 29
    See, for example, Karagianni, Angeliki et al.: “Materialität.” In: Meier, Thomas et al. (Eds.): Materiale Textkulturen. Konzepte – Materialien – Praktiken, Berlin 2015: de Gruyter, 33-46. DOI: 10.1515/9783110371291
  • 30
    On the golden radiance of heroic statues, see, for example, Hubert, Hans W.: “Sanktifizierung als Heroisierung? Die Statuen Papst Bonifaz’ VIII. zwischen Bildnispolitik und Idolatrie.” In: Aurnhammer, Achim / Bröckling, Ulrich (Eds.): Vom Weihegefäß zur Drohne. Kulturen des Heroischen und ihre Objekte. Würzburg 2016: Ergon, 58-82.
  • 31
    On intermediality see, for example, Rajewsky, Irina O.: Intermedialität. Tübingen 2002: Francke; Fischer, Carolin et al. (Eds.): Produktive Rezeption. Imitatio, Intertextualität, Intermedialität. Konzepte der Rezeption. Vol. 1. Tübingen 2015: Stauffenburg.
  • 32
    Elleström, Lars: “The Modalities of Media. A Model for Understanding Intermedial Relations.” In: Elleström, Lars (Ed.): Media Borders, Multimodality and Intermediality. Basingstoke 2010: Palgrave Macmillan, 11-48.
  • 33
    Cancik, Hubert: “Größe und Kolossalität als religiöse und ästhetische Kategorien”. In: Visible Religion 7 (1990), 51-68.
  • 34
    See, for example, Hecht, Christian: Die Glorie. Begriff, Thema, Bildelement in der europäischen Sakralkunst vom Mittelalter bis zum Ausgang des Barock. Regensburg 2003: Schnell & Steiner; Warland, Rainer: “Nimbus”. In: Reallexikon für Antike und Christentum. Vol. 25. Stuttgart 2013: Hiersemann, 915-938; Lechtermann, Christina / Wandhoff, Heiko (Eds.): Licht, Glanz, Blendung. Beiträge zu einer Kulturgeschichte des Leuchtenden. Frankfurt a. M. 2008: Peter Lang.
  • 35
    Fischer et al.: Produktive Rezeption, 2015; Isekenmeier, Guido et al. (Eds.): Intertextualität und Intermedialität. Theoretische Grundlagen – Exemplarische Analysen. Berlin 2021: Metzler. See also Isekenmeier, Guido: Interpiktorialität. Theorie und Geschichte der Bild-Bild-Bezüge. Bielefeld 2013: Transcript; Ulrich, Anna Valentine: Gebaute Zitate. Formen und Funktionen des Zitierens in Musik, Bild und Architektur. Bielefeld 2015: Transcript; Isekenmeier, Guido et al. (Eds.): Intertextualität und Intermedialität. Theoretische Grundlagen – Exemplarische Analysen. Berlin 2021: Metzler.
  • 36
    See, for example, Genette, Gérard: Palimpsests. Literature in the Second Degree. Lincoln 1997: University of Nebraska Press.
  • 37
    Blumenberg, Hans: Präfiguration. Arbeit am politischen Mythos. Berlin 2014: Suhrkamp, 10, and for the following 14.
  • 38
    von den Hoff, Ralf et al.: “Imitatio heroica – Zur Reichweite eines kulturellen Phänomens.” In: von den Hoff, Ralf et al. (Eds.): Imitatio heroica. Heldenangleichung im Bildnis. Baden-Baden 2015: Ergon, 9-33.
  • 39
    Schankweiler, Kerstin / Wüschner, Philipp: “Pathosformel”. In: Sonderforschungsbereich 1171 (Ed): Affective Societies: Key Concepts Online. Berlin 04.01.2023, online at: https://key-concepts.sfb-affective-societies.de/articles/pathosformel-version-1-0 (quote; accessed on 18.09.2023); Schankweiler, Kerstin / Wüschner, Philipp: “Images that move. Analyzing affect with Aby Warburg”. In: Kahl, Antje (Ed.): Analyzing Affective Societies. Methods and Methodologies. London/New York 2019: Routledge, 101-119; Schankweiler, Kerstin / Wüschner, Philipp: “Pathosformel (pathos formula)”. In: Slaby, Jan / von Scheve, Christian (Eds.): Affective Societies. Key Concepts. London/New York 2019: Routledge, 220-230.

5. Selected literature

  • Aurnhammer, Achim et al.: Ästhetiken des Heroischen. Darstellung – Affizierung – Gesellschaft. Göttingen 2024: Wallstein.
  • Falkenhayner, Nicole: “What is the ‘Hero Affect’? Outlining a Research Perspective on the Affective Role of Heroizations in Contemporary European Popular Culture”. In: Journal of European Popular Culture 11.2 (2020), 85-90. DOI: 10.1386/jepc_00018_2
  • Feitscher, Georg: Schlüsselkonzepte des Heroischen. Göttingen 2024: Wallstein. DOI: 10.46500/83535547
  • Slaby Jan / Mühlhoff, Rainer / Wüschner, Philipp: “Affective Arrangements”. In: Emotion Review 11.1 (2019), 3-12. DOI: 10.1177/1754073917722214

Citation

Ralf von den Hoff / Barbara Korte: Affective Aesthetics. In: Compendium heroicum, ed. by Ronald G. Asch, Achim Aurnhammer, Georg Feitscher, Anna Schreurs-Morét, and Ralf von den Hoff, published by Sonderforschungsbereich 948, University of Freiburg, Freiburg 2024-03-28. DOI: 10.6094/heroicum/aaee1.0.20240328