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Art, education, Arendt : political and aesthetic gestures of amor mundi Ryoo, Anna


This dissertation engages with the work of Hannah Arendt as the backbone of this study to question what it means to act for the love of the world at the intersections of art, aesthetics, education, philosophy, and politics. I delve into some of the contentious aspects of her political theory and philosophy as entry points to probe into what it means to respond to world events aesthetically and educationally. This dissertation consists of two parts. In Part I, I explicate why it matters to think with Arendt, one of the most idiosyncratic thinkers of the 20th century. To do so, I first discuss three of what I call Arendt’s un/identified methods: existing in excess as a work of art, engaging in the activity of thinking, and critiquing and prying lose the rich and the strange as a pearl diver. I follow this account with my re-interpretation of her assertion that education is pre-political and must be conservative, as education is that which occurs between Arendt’s notion of the first miracle and the second miracle. Part II transitions into the public, political realm. I begin by placing a spotlight on some of the artworks from the Sichuan earthquake project led by Chinese contemporary artist Ai Weiwei. I then examine contentious aspects of what is considered a suitable political art from the multiple perspectives of political theorists, political philosophers, art critics, and art theorists. To further think critically about Arendt’s notion of political action, I consider her critics’ views on the inadequacy of her thoughts for today’s political sphere and use their criticisms to lay out some of the most fundamental aspects of her work. I contend that Arendt’s scholarly endeavor was neither to incite a new revolution nor to suggest a blueprint of any kind via aestheticizing action. I conclude the study with what Arendt meant by amor mundi (love of the world), or to be concerned for the world, and what we might learn from it.

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