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Cover for the book The Ecstatic Quotidian

The Ecstatic Quotidian

Phenomenological Sightings in Modern Art and Literature Jennifer Anna Gosetti-Ferencei
  • Copyright: 2007
  • Dimensions: 6 x 9
  • Page Count: 280 pages
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-271-03227-6
  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-271-03228-3
  • Series Name: Literature and Philosophy

Winner of a 2008 Choice Outstanding Academic Title

“The basic idea behind this marvelous book is simple: contrast the ordinary and what defines escape from the ordinary, call that ecstasy. This idea is used to yield wonderfully challenging results. This virtuoso performance, erudite and very smart, is a book I wish I had written.”
“Lucidly and elegantly written, this is a significant contribution to phenomenology and literary/cultural theory alike.”
The Ecstatic Quotidian is a scholarly, detailed overview of the places where modernist art and phenomenology intersect. It is an excellent resource for those who want to understand the ways in which modernist art and philosophy are indebted to one another. By engaging philosophy, literature, and visual art into such a productive dialogue with one another, the author succeeds in placing some of our basic assumptions about these forms and their differences into question as well.”

Fascination with quotidian experience in modern art, literature, and philosophy promotes ecstatic forms of reflection on the very structure of the everyday world. Gosetti-Ferencei examines the ways in which modern art and literature enable a study of how we experience quotidian life. She shows that modernism, while exhibiting many strands of development, can be understood by investigating how its attentions to perception and expectation, to the common quality of things, or to childhood play gives way to experiences of ecstasis—the stepping outside of the ordinary familiarity of the world.

While phenomenology grounds this study (through Husserl, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, and Bachelard), what makes this book more than a treatise on phenomenological aesthetics is the way in which modernity itself is examined in its relation to the quotidian. Through the works of artists and writers such as Benjamin, Cézanne, Frost, Klee, Newman, Pollock, Ponge, Proust, Rilke, Robbe-Grillet, Rothko, Sartre, and Twombly, the world of quotidian life can be seen to harbor a latent ecstasis. The breakdown of the quotidian through and after modernism then becomes an urgent question for understanding art and literature in its capacity to further human experience, and it points to the limits of phenomenological explications of the everyday.

Jennifer Anna Gosetti-Ferencei is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Fordham University and a Clarendon Scholar at the University of Oxford.




1. The Quotidian and Literary-Phenomenological Departures from Everydayness

2. Sources of Ecstasis in Childhood Experience

3. Literary Phenomenology from the Natural Attitude to Recognition

4. The Mysterious and Poetry of the World’s Inner Horizons

5. The Painterly and the Poetic Image Between Rilke and Cézanne

6. The Silent Ecstasis of Vision

7. Ecstatic Mimesis in Trompe l’oeil




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