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The Aesthetics of Late Modern War

Since the turn of the century, fictions have increasingly been used as tools of war. Imagined scenarios and virtual worlds now shape how wars are prepared, waged, and processed. The military has thereby co-opted a field rarely associated with warfare - the field of aesthetics. Various concepts that traditionally belong to the theory of art and representation, have migrated into the military sphere. Thus notions of fictionality, experience, realism, the suspension of disbelief have become key to warfare today.At the same time, artworks have themselves reacted to the militarization of aesthetics.

To understand this merger of warfare and aesthetics we need a new theoretical perspective. While the recent and ongoing wars in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and in Syria have led numerous scholars to reflect anew on what a humanistic approach may offer for the study of war, a basic aesthetic framework is lacking. Uniting scholars from the main disciplines in the arts - literature, theater, film, and visual art - this research project aims to build it.

The Velux Foundation

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