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Visual Seductions

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Chapter Summary

By focusing on the polemical role of paganism, this chapter explores the advantages of the new approaches for the study of Western esoteric discourse and the interferences between religion, philosophy, and art. Academic research into the cultural changes that took place in Europe between 1400 and 1650 is notoriously fraught with terminological difficulties. With regard to the place of paganism and polytheism in Western culture, three questions in particular stand in the foreground. Art historians in general and the Warburg School in particular played a crucial role in the twentieth-century debate about Renaissance paganism and the question of continuity and reform. The oscillation between fascination with and exorcism of images has been even more fundamental because it was inseparably bound to the question of idolatry. Discursive approaches in cultural studies in general, and the concept of image acts and visual culture in particular, challenges the analytical frameworks.

Keywords: image acts; visual seductions; Western esoteric discourse



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