Theses Doctoral

Joyful Sensibilities: Bakhtin’s Polyphonic Aesthetics and the Ethics of Generosity

Ilicic, Milica

This project seeks to make a contribution to contemporary theories of affect by putting the work of theorists Brian Massumi, Sara Ahmed, Jane Bennett, and Donovan Schaefer in conversation with the Russian philosopher Mikhail Bakhtin. At the same time, it relies on these theorists’ conceptualizations of embodied affect to explore the role of the body in Bakhtin’s understanding of selfhood and freedom.

In particular, I show how Bakhtin’s incorporation of aesthetics into processes of self-creation and relationality adds to scholarship on interpersonal affective dynamics; sociocultural economies of affect; ethically potent experiences of wonder and generous behaviors; and religious impulses. Further, I demonstrate that the principles of dialogism and polyphony can be conveyed through cinematic means, and argue that Bakhtin’s concept of carnival can inform analyses of sensory impact of cinema, revealing its potential to challenge politics and ideologies on an embodied and affective plane.

Finally, I argue that Bakhtinian polyphony is the aesthetic modality proper to cultivation and manifestation of ethics of generosity, whereby sensations of awe, wonder, and curiosity stimulate attentive and open-minded engagement with the world.


This item is currently under embargo. It will be available starting 2024-09-26.

More About This Work

Academic Units
Slavic Languages
Thesis Advisors
Lipovetsky, Mark
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
September 28, 2022