AESTHETICS FOR BIRDS

Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art for Everyone


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AESTHETICS FOR DISTANT BIRDS, WORKSHOP #3: CALL FOR ABSTRACTS

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A few friends and I have been organizing an online workshop series, held via Zoom. It’s been held at 1:30 pm Eastern Daylight Time for the previous sessions, but in an effort to get some more geographical diversity (and to accommodate people who just have appointments, childcare, etc. in the afternoon), we’ll be holding our session on Wednesday, July 22 session at 9:00 pm.

Submission and other details below.

Aesthetics for Distant Birds:
An Online Workshop Series

Co-organizers: Aaron Meskin, Jonathan Neufeld, Thi Nguyen, and Alex King (that’s me) Continue reading


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“OLD TOWN ROAD”: COUNTRY OR NOT?

Soon after Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” debuted in December 2018, it quickly rose to the top of Billboard’s Hot Country Songs. But in March of 2019, Billboard removed the song from the country chart, claiming that it had been wrongly classified as country. The track went on to top the Billboard Hot 100 Chart, staying there for a record 19 weeks. But a debate remained about whether Billboard’s claim was right. Is “Old Town Road” a country song or not? Continue reading


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THE FEMINIST REVOLUTION CONTINUES: CONTRIBUTIONS OF WOMEN TO THE VISUAL ARTS (CAA) AND AESTHETICS (ASA)

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The author at her easel (photo courtesy of Peg Brand Weiser)

What follows is a guest post by Peg Brand Weiser.

The Feminist Caucus Committee (FCC) arose within the American Society for Aesthetics in the fall of 1990 with an impromptu meeting at the annual conference, that year in Austin, Texas. A chronology of events over the past three decades is now documented in a new online essay, “A Brief History of the FCC on the 30th Anniversary of its Founding,” co-authored by Carolyn Korsmeyer (Buffalo), Cynthia Freeland (Houston), and me. It is located on the FCC page that also celebrates faculty representatives at various summer programs for women and diversity. 2020 is also a year to celebrate the winners of the 30th Anniversary FCC Essay Prize: Sherry Irvin (Oklahoma) with Honorable Mention awarded to Alia Al-Saji (McGill). Continue reading


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BURYING THE DEAD MONUMENTS

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What follows is a guest post from Elizabeth Scarbrough.

In the past few weeks, we’ve seen people from various nations take to the street and graffiti, topple, and otherwise demand the removal of racist monuments. Among the more notable ousted statues in the United States is Confederate President Jefferson Davis on Monument Avenue in Richmond, Virginia, and slave-owning Founding Father Thomas Jefferson in Portland, Oregon. Christopher Columbus has fared no better, his statue beheaded in Boston and graffitied with blood on his hands in Miami. In the UK, slave-trader Edward Colson’s statue was toppled and thrown into Bristol harbor. And in Belgium a 150-year-old statue of King Leopold II was officially removed following mass protest.

Monuments are objects designed and created intentionally to remind us of something worth honoring. According to J.B. Jackson, “A traditional monument, as the origin of the word indicates, is an object which is supposed to remind us of something important. That is to say, it exists to put people in mind of some obligation they have incurred: a great public figure, a great public event, a great public declaration which the group had pledged itself to honor.” The aesthetic pleasure it might facilitate, Jackson believes, is secondary. In this way monuments have value as they remind their audience “of something important,” – some group commitment. While we might approach them as solitary individuals, their meaning is derived from some collective experience. As C. Thi Nguyen argues in “Monuments as Commitments: How Art Speaks to Groups and How Groups Think in Art” monuments are not only backward-looking. They ask us to commit to protect values, then act according to those values. In this sense, we rightfully decide to jettison values that no longer serve us – and consequently monuments of racist figures must too be jettisoned. And if it is time for these racist monuments to die, the question is – what should we do with their bodies? Continue reading


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HOLDING OUR BREATH: MAKING SOCIALLY DISTANCED MUSIC TOGETHER

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What follows is a guest post by John Dyck.

Singing is a potent way to spread the virus. I learned this in a Zoom call with my parents, getting the update from back home in Canada. Singing together in worship, they said, has been banned in my home province. I looked it up: Congregational singing is a high-risk activity and is not allowed. The provincial government’s guideline for places of worship explains: Infected people can transmit the virus through their saliva or respiratory droplets while singing. Even singing in a small live-streaming group is not allowed. Soloists and instrumentals are encouraged instead. Some groups, I’m told, are reading their hymns.

It must be strange to worship over a screen. If you are used to singing in worship, it must feel even stranger to worship without song. For some faithful Christian souls, I imagine, worship without song must be as jarring as worship without communion, the saliva and droplets gusting up out of your throat as sure a sign as the bread and wine rushing down into it. Continue reading