Aesthetics for Birds

Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art for Everyone

Southern Aesthetics Workshop X Aesthetics for Birds: Program


An Online Workshop

Organized by Alex King, Aaron Meskin, Jonathan Neufeld, and Elizabeth Scarbrough

The Southern Aesthetics Workshop and Aesthetics for Birds are excited to bring you an online workshop this winter. It will take place at 2:00 pm Eastern Standard Time on February 19.


The format will be similar to the remote workshops last summer. For this workshop, each session will consist of a 15-minute presentation and a 15-minute Q&A.

2:00 pm – start

2:05 pm – “Robust Moderate Moralism”
Craig K. Agule (Rutgers University – Camden)

Abstract: What should we make of cases of morally problematic but otherwise apparently beautiful artworks? Do moral flaws make for aesthetic flaws? I argue that our moral reactions have essential perceptual and interpretive elements and that those elements can provide a straightforward, non-foundational, and genre-independent account of aesthetic moralism. We should thus not be surprised if moral flaws make for aesthetic flaws. I also consider a different puzzle for aesthetic moralism, cases where a moral flaw seems tied to an aesthetic virtue, showing that this is possible, but that the ordinary examples are problematic. In both sorts of these cases, I show the aesthetically explanatory power of our fitting moral responses, buttressing the case for aesthetic moralism. We are not prudes or unsophisticated if we find the morally ugly aesthetically ugly, as moral matters and moral responses are proper grist for the aesthetic critic.

2:35 pm – “The ‘Crack in the Voice’ and Joe Turner Blues”
Jeanette Bicknell (Independent Scholar & ASA Ombudsperson)

Abstract: Great art has been created under conditions of immense suffering and social injustice. What is less clear is how responsively and sensitively to make sense of and appreciate such art. I offer some reflections on the challenge of appreciating African American music, and my central example is the song, “Joe Turner Blues.”  I outline two approaches to these questions (Arlene Croce and Fred Moten) before offering my own suggestions.

3:05 pm – “The Narrative Aesthetics of Protest Images”
Hannah Fasnacht (eikones – Center for the Theory and History of the Image, University of Basel)

Abstract: Images are crucial for activism and protest movements. Whether documentary or fictional, over time paradigmatic cases and a certain aesthetics of protest images evolves. This aesthetics has some transformative power. And its power comes, or so I argue, mainly from its narrative structure, like the representation of goal-directed actions.

3:35 pm – “Truth in Interactive Fiction”
Alex Fisher (University of Cambridge)

Abstract: Interactive fictions contain many possible fictions or “branches”, with each playthrough presenting just one. How can we discuss or even review works when experiences can differ so radically? I propose that we infer truths from other branches, similar to how fictional truths are imported  from reality. Further, this explains one form of narrative dissonance unique to interactive fiction.

4:05 pm – wrap-up
4:10 pm – end

Registration & Attendance

Hooray! Registration and attendance are free! Still, we need you to register so that we can send you the Zoom link.

You can register by going here and send us your name and email. Please join us – the more the better!

Please note that, for security reasons, you will have to register additionally through the Zoom link, which we’ll send you ahead of time.

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