Metonyms of modernity in contemporary Syrian music and painting

Jonathan H. Shannon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This essay examines painting and music in modern Syria as cultural practices that give voice to modernist sensibilities. I argue that two important spatial and temporal tropes structure the aesthetics of authenticity in Syrian visual and musical arts: the old city and the countryside. Through recourse to these metonymic representations and evocations, Syrian artists articulate a vision of modernity in which discourses of emotion and sentiment are important bases of authentic Syrian cultural identity. In this manner they offer an alternative to European ideologies of modernity that have stressed rationality. At the same time they promote critical responses to the modern Syrian state.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)361-386
Number of pages26
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2005


  • Aesthetics
  • Modernity
  • Music
  • Painting
  • Syria

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Archaeology


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