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COUSINS, Mark

The Poetics of Cliché Emma Bovary; love as cliché

Series: Friday Lecture Series
Date: 25/11/2011
Time: 17:00:00
Venue: Lecture Hall
Running time: 54 mins

Mark Cousins' lecture course will examine the power of formulations in language or in images which would normally be described as cliché. It asks why it is nonetheless that they exercise such a continuing power over us and why we respond to them. In the course of the lectures he will examine various concepts of the ‘imaginary’ and the use of ‘imaginary’ to explain certain mechanisms in that area called everyday life. 

Friday 25 November, Emma Bovary; love as cliché


The cliché represents an insoluble problem for language and art in modernity. Technology, cities and forms of signification all entail a radical increase in the volume and density of discourse. This produces both a standardisation of discourse and a revulsion from this standardisation. A new type of tension develops between the standard and the rare or the original – a different tension from that between the copy and the original. The first term of the lecture course follows this tension by giving attention to the notion of the cliché, whether it be in language or in the arts, architecture and design, and its role in politics and administration. The question of the cliché even extends to people’s lives when they are considered to be living clichés, a new type of zombie.


Further lectures in the series: Fridays 25 November, Emma Bovary; love as cliché; 2 December, Administration; the biopolitics of language; and 9 December, Place Settings; design and cliché



Mark Cousins is director of History and Theory at the AA. He is a founder member and Senior Research Fellow at the London Consortium Graduate School. He is Guest Professor at South East University Nanjing and has been Visiting Professor at Columbia University


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