Full Text


Paul Messaris


In the context of communication studies, aesthetic theory may be defined as the attempt to understand people's enjoyment of certain forms of communication – such as stories, movies, music, dance – that are apparently attended to for their own sake, despite their lack of any ostensible instrumental value. Although this type of enjoyment can be considered an inherent feature of human biology ( Dissanayake 1992 ), the specific experiences that give rise to it differ widely among the cultures of the world (→  Intercultural and Intergroup Communication ). Simply put, the study of aesthetics seeks to answer two basic questions: what do people like or dislike about such experiences – and why? The idea that aesthetic judgments have a bearing on, or somehow derive from, real-world practical imperatives has traditionally met with considerable resistance in the western intellectual tradition, from A. G. Baumgarten and Immanuel Kant to certain postmodernist theories ( Prettejohn 2005 ; →  Postmodernism and Communication ). Such resistance has been accompanied by a normative insistence that what is distinctive about the aesthetic realm is whatever goes beyond the type of response that connects a work of art to the utilitarian goals of everyday life. Indeed, in this view of aesthetics, our contemplation of objects and events in the environment is aesthetic only if it is disinterested (see N. ... log in or subscribe to read full text

Log In

You are not currently logged-in to Blackwell Reference Online

If your institution has a subscription, you can log in here:


     Forgotten your password?

Find out how to subscribe.

Your library does not have access to this title. Please contact your librarian to arrange access.

[ access key 0 : accessibility information including access key list ] [ access key 1 : home page ] [ access key 2 : skip navigation ] [ access key 6 : help ] [ access key 9 : contact us ] [ access key 0 : accessibility statement ]

Blackwell Publishing Home Page

Blackwell Reference Online ® is a Blackwell Publishing Inc. registered trademark
Technology partner: Semantico Ltd.

Blackwell Publishing and its licensors hold the copyright in all material held in Blackwell Reference Online. No material may be resold or published elsewhere without Blackwell Publishing's written consent, save as authorised by a licence with Blackwell Publishing or to the extent required by the applicable law.

Back to Top