Forms of form

“Form is not a body but an agent. It forms.”

“It suggests in itself something of the very multi-dimensionality, the unsettled busyness, of the artwork. For form can signify both the finished object, the art form in its completion, or the parts that make up the technical apparatus. It can signify a visionary apparition in the mind, or the real, physical properties of a work.”

“Form, then, is the distribution of space caused by edging one thing against another, so that each calls attention to the other.”

Angela Leighton (2007)

“Form not only is the boundary, but also contains the two sides it separates. Form has, as it were, an open reference to the world.”

Niklas Luhmann (1999)

“anything may be said to have form that follows a pattern of any sort, exhibits order, internal connection.”

Susanne Langer (1937)

“One of the places where humans have some agency is in the orders that we ourselves impose: our spatial and temporal arrangements, our hierarchies of value and distributions of wealth – our forms.”

Caroline Levine (2015)

“form is precisely the repeatable element of literature: what returns fundamentally unchanged over many cases and many years”

Franco Moretti (2000)

“There is a politics of form as well as a politics of content. Form is not a distraction from history but a mode of access to it.”

Terry Eagleton (2007)

  • Barthes, Roland. The Responsibility of Form. Transl. Richard Howard. New York: Hill and Wang, 1986.
  • Eagleton, Terry. How to Read a Poem. Malden, MA: Blackwell. 2007
  • Langer, Susanne K. An Introduction to Symbolic Logic. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. 1937.
  • Leighton, Angela. On Form: Poetry, Aestheticism, and the Legacy of a Word. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.
  • Levine, Caroline. Forms: Whole, Rhythm, Hierarchy, Network. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2015.
  • Luhmann, Niklas. “The Paradox of Form.” Problems of Form. Ed. Dirk Baecker. Stanford: Stanford UP, 1999. 15-26.
  • Moretti, Franco. “The Slaughterhouse of Literature.” MLQ 61.1 (2000): 207-27