AESTHETICS FOR BIRDS

Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art for Everyone


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THE ASA AT 75: DIVERSITY AND THE TIPPING POINT

The following is a guest post by Charles Peterson (Oberlin College).
This is one of three companion pieces that reflect on the ASA’s 75th anniversary. Click here for the first, by A.W. Eaton, and the second, by Paul C. Taylor. See also the ASA Officers’ response letter here.

goldsworthy

The age of 75 can signify multiple indicators. At 75 years old, an ant would be ancient. At 75 years old a mountain would be considered infantile in its span and at 75 years old a human being, has lived to a ripe and healthy age. For an academic organization, 75 years is a perfect time to celebrate its longevity and take stock of its future. The American Society for Aesthetics is at this point in regards to the inclusion of diverse scholars and discourses in its proceedings.  The ASA stands at the threshold where its present efforts to open up, encourage and support the presence of women and members from previously underrepresented backgrounds can either move forward, grow and expand or retreat  into exclusivity and marginality.

As has been mentioned by Anne Eaton and Paul Taylor, the steps taken by the ASA at the organizational level, to increase and encourage diversity must be commended. I will not reiterate the efforts described by Eaton and Taylor but will focus on the need for the self-awareness necessary for these efforts to reap real reward.  Too often in these efforts there lay a gap between the programmatic endeavors designed to invite and support diverse populations scholars into mainstream institutions and the response of members of these institutions. These programmatic and organizational efforts are aimed to provide support and access to new members. They show an agency on the part of the organization to be clear about its goals regarding diversity. These efforts also are focused on the recipients of the programming but do not attend to the majority population of the organization. The presence of diverse members and perspectives does not reveal its full import if there is not a true relationship between all members on these issues. The failure for the entirety of the organization to undertake this effort, to in good faith, take up the responsibility of opening up the ASA as a space for true inclusion and intellectual expansion. This failure could lead to the exact opposite of the aforementioned efforts, as members from underrepresented groups make the principled choice to not participate in ASA. This choice is one based on the need to preserve ones health, dignity and integrity. To open up the ASA as a space of inclusivity, a real struggle must be waged. This struggle cannot be thrust exclusively on the shoulders of marginalized members and their allies and must be waged by all members of the organization. This is a programmatic struggle, a discursive struggle and it is an internal struggle that necessarily must be waged by the majority members. To paraphrase Claudia Jones, a founder of the Notting Hill Carnival in London, UK, it means that a struggle for inclusion must be boldly fought in every sphere of organizational interactions so that the open door of institutional membership doesn’t become a revolving door because of the failure to conduct this struggle.

This work, this struggle, must be of the most transformative type, wherein old organizational assumptions, behaviours and privileges must be examined and interrogated. At heart what academic organizations provide are community; for scholars of same or differing minds, for scholars that work in similar or contrasting areas, and for scholars that understand or are ignorant of each other’s, literal or metaphoric, languages. Despite these inconsistencies and divergences, these communities must be steeped in respect for all participants and what they contribute.  This respect, the foundation of community, can only be maintained when all members become self critical of the limits of their experience, understanding and knowledge. To function in the full privilege of the unexamined life, thought and action will only maintain walls between members that seal off the ASA from the rich complexity of difference. If these walls remain unbroken, they become the walls of a self -imposed prison.

It has been my belief that philosophy is a living thing, proactive and reactive, active and mindful, at heart an experience that is fully engaged with the world from which it rises and that it informs. Aesthetics among the sub fields of philosophy may be the most reflective of this belief. Art has long been a reflection of social change, a signifier for the world as it is, could, can and will be. The consideration of art, its forms and practices can do no less than open up to the ways of life. The world we live in, the world in which the ASA finds itself, is one where the old hierarchies, orders and practices are going the way of the mad man. The ASA as organization and its majority members must decide in what direction it will go. Will it embrace the realities of inclusion and diversity, wherein its members embrace and understand the importance of scholars that bring new and different ways of seeing, speaking and being and extend to them the respect they deserve? Or will it become like an object of contemplation, hanging on the walls of a long closed museum, decaying in its chosen irrelevance, atrophying in its unacknowledged limits.

This then is the tipping point, at 75 years the ASA and its membership can engage in an intense self reflection and consciously decide what will the organization be going forward, who will be welcomed and embraced in that future and how room can be made for those fellow travelers. The organization can take seriously the work necessary amongst the membership to craft a real and true community, wherein all feel and are truly welcomed. Or not. Conversely the ASA can look askance at those practices, which offend and insult women and persons of color. The ASA can remain silent on various forms of diversity, as Anne Eaton has noted, disability and class.  It can continue to work at the organizational level and not consider the community itself. These are not small questions, and there are no simple solutions but if the ASA is to take the first steps of the next 75 years as an inclusive and supportive body, its growth and expansion depend on its real ability to create and embody the community it hopes to be.

This is one of three companion pieces that reflect on the ASA’s 75th anniversary. Click here for the first, by A.W. Eaton, and the second, by Paul C. Taylor. See also the ASA Officers’ response letter here.

Notes on the Contributor
Charles Peterson is Associate Professor of Africana Studies at Oberlin College and writes on film, political theory and fronts a cover band for spiritual nourishment. He is a co-editor of De-Colonizing the Academy: African Diaspora Studies (Africa World Press, 2003) and author of DuBois, Fanon, Cabral: The Margins of Elite Anti-Colonial Leadership (Lexington Books, 2007).

Image credit: Untitled Arch at Benbrack summit by Andy Goldsworthy, original photo by summonedbyfells via Flickr.


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THE ASA AT 75: ‘SPLAINING AND SAFARIS

What follows is a guest post by Paul C. Taylor (Penn State).
[Updated:] This is the first of three companion pieces that reflect on the ASA’s 75th anniversary. Click here for the first, by A.W. Eaton, and the third, by Charles Peterson. See also the ASA Officers’ response letter here.

By the time my father turned 75, he was freely exercising the wide-ranging license to offend that family elders often enjoy. He could say or do pretty much anything, and we would chalk it up to him being set in his ways. We would weigh the costs and benefits of contesting his frequently insensitive and sometimes just rude behavior, or of reminding him of all the considerations that militate against talking about women or Jews or whatever like that anymore. And we would usually decide that discretion was the better part of valour, and we would let him alone.

So on he lumbered, cluelessly, sometimes willfully, out of step with evolving social mores. The good news is that he was mostly harmless, having tucked himself away into a quiet retirement where he neither had nor wanted influence or authority over anyone other than himself.

The American Society for Aesthetics (ASA), 75 years old this year, reminds me of my father. It has an at best uneven relationship to shifting social mores, especially as these bear on behaviours that should be as distant and grating to us as the world of Mad Men. And much as my father assumed he could say whatever he wanted and continue to enjoy the respect and love of his children, some members of the ASA seem to think the organization can both live in the 1950s and win the loyalty of people today. Continue reading


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THE ASA AT 75: HOW ARE WE DOING WITH DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION?

The following is a guest post by A.W. Eaton (University of Illinois-Chicago).
[Updated:] This is the first of three companion pieces that reflect on the ASA’s 75th anniversary. Click here for the second, by Paul C. Taylor, and the third, by Charles Peterson. See also the ASA Officers’ response letter here.

calverley

The 75th anniversary of the American Society of Aesthetics is an opportunity to reflect upon both our progress regarding inclusion and diversity and also upon the remaining work to be done. I discuss them here in turn. Continue reading


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KENNETH WALDEN WINS THE INAUGURAL DANTO/ASA PRIZE!

Military Symbols 1, Marsden Hartley, ca. 1913–14, Charcoal on paper, 24 1/4 x 18 1/4 in., The MET

The American Philosophical Association and the American Society for Aesthetics are pleased to announce that Professor Kenneth Walden (Dartmouth College) has been selected as the winner of the inaugural Arthur Danto/American Society for Aesthetics Prize for his paper, “Art and Moral Revolution.”

The Danto/ASA Prize, in the amount of $1,000, is awarded to a member of the APA and the ASA for the best paper in the field of aesthetics, broadly understood. In addition, a symposium in honor of the recipient of the prize is held at the APA Eastern Division meeting, normally the next such meeting following the selection of the prize winner. This prize is in honor of the late Arthur Danto, a past president of the APA Eastern Division.

Walden is assistant professor of philosophy at Dartmouth College. His areas of expertise are ethics, epistemology, Kant, and aesthetics. He received his Ph.D. from MIT. Walden has published in the Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Ethics, Philosophical Studies, and Oxford Studies in Metaethics, with two articles forthcoming at other journals.

The chair of the selection committee said, “Works of art can effect incremental tweaks to our moral concepts or patterns of moral response. Kenneth Walden’s “Art and Moral Revolution” contends that art sometimes goes further, transforming frameworks of moral thought. In the spirit of Arthur Danto, in whose memory this prize is given, Walden advances an ambitious and far-reaching argument through insightful redescriptions of Wagnerian opera and the provocative street performances of the Cynics.”

Original post: http://blog.apaonline.org/2017/06/21/kenneth-walden-wins-the-inaugural-dantoasa-prize/


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ASA 75TH ANNUAL MEETING PRELIMINARY PROGRAM NOW AVAILABLE

The 75th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Aesthetics will be held in New Orleans November 15-18, 2017.

Check out the preliminary program PDF: ASA Preliminary Meeting Program

George Overbury “Pop” Hart, Springtime, New Orleans, 1925, Lithograph;
The MET

REGISTRATION:

  • Early-bird registration is available on-line through October 15.
  • To register on-line (with a credit card), click the red REGISTER button on this page.
  • To receive the discounted ASA member rates, please log into the ASA site FIRST.
  • To mail in registration (with a check), use this form.
  • Early-bird deadline for mail-in registration: postmark by October 10

Everyone on the  program (as a presenter, panelist, commentator, or chair) MUST register for the meeting and MUST be a member of the ASA.

The Wollheim Lecturer at this meeting will be Professor Derek Matravers, Open University, UK.

The ASA will provide:

Highlights:


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CONGRATS TO THE WINNERS OF THE 2017 APA CURRICULUM DIVERSIFICATION GRANTS

ca. 1885, Made in New York, United States, Silk, satin, velvet, and cotton, credit: The Met

The American Society for Aesthetics is pleased to announce the winners of the 2017 Curriculum Diversification Grant competition:

Chris Jenkins, Associate Dean for Academic Support, Oberlin Conservatory
Project:  The Aesthetics of African-American Classical Music
Erich Hatala Matthes, Assistant Professor, Wellesley College
Project: Art and Cultural Heritage
Rossen Ventzislavov, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Woodbury University
Project: The Aesthetics of Performance Art
CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL OF THE WINNERS!!!

Each will receive a grant of $5,000 to prepare the proposed diversity curriculum. These will be posted on the ASA web site in September 2017. This is a project of the ASA Diversity Committee, chaired by Thi Nguyen.

To see the final curricula of the 2015 and 2016 winners, click here.


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AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR AESTHETICS EASTERN MEETING

The American Society for Aesthetics Eastern Division will meet April 28-29, 2017, at the Independence Park Hotel in Philadelphia.

The conference program spans two full days, Friday and Saturday, April 28-29.

Designs for Four Upholstered Chairs, Charles Hindley and Sons, 1841–84, Met Museum

PRELIMINARY PROGRAM (April 3, 2017)

On-line pre-registration is strongly encouraged to assist us in planning. Look for the red REGISTER button on the upper-right corner of this page. To get the ASA member rates, you must FIRST log into the ASA web page.

On-site registration will begin on Thursday, April 27th, in the evening. The conference rate for Independence Park is available for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. As soon as we receive your registration, we will send you the link to use at the hotel for conference rates.

Pre-registration (by April 24th) for both days:

  • $70 (ASA members)
  • $90 (non-members)
  • $30 (student ASA members)
  • $40 (student non-ASA members)

On-site or same-week registration (April 24th or later) for both days:

  • $80 (ASA members)
  • $100 (non-ASA members)
  • $35 (student ASA members)
  • $45 (student non-ASA members)

One-day registration (pre-registration or on-site):

  • $60 (ASA members and non-members)
  • $30 (student ASA members and non-members)

Mail-in pre-registration (must be received by April 21)

Pre-registrations are greatly appreciated to assist us in planning. Please note that all conference presenters and panel proposers must be members of the ASA. You can find information about joining the ASA at the following address: http://aesthetics-online.org/

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us: Brandon Cooke (University of Minnesota, Mankato) cooke@mnsu.edu or Alessandro Giovannelli (Lafayette College) giovannelli@lafayette.edu. Thank you!

Brandon Cooke and Alessandro Giovannelli
Co-Chairs, American Society for Aesthetics Eastern Division Meeting


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LEITER RANKINGS OF AESTHETICS GRAD PROGRAMS

korry-benneth-numbers

From Leiter Reports, the 2016-2017 Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art grad program rankings.

Group 1 (1-5)

City University of New York Graduate Center
New York University
University of British Columbia
University of St Andrews/University of Stirling Joint Program
University of York

Group 2 (6-10)

Brown University
Columbia University (incl. Barnard)
University of Auckland
University of Leeds
University of Maryland, College Park

Group 3 (11-17)

Birkbeck College, University of London
McGill University
Princeton University
Stanford University
University of Manchester
University of Texas, Austin
University of Warwick

(Note:   Michigan was close to Group 3 [I think it was underrated in 2014, and should be at least in Group 2]; also take note of the programs not evaluated in 2014 but that were viewed as worth recommending by the Advisory Board”  Buffalo, Temple, Hull, Oklahoma & Southampton.  Stanford’s presence on the list is due primarily to a part-time visiting appointment of the distinguished philosopher of art, Kendall Walton–students should make sure that appointment is continuing.)

What say you, Readers? Agree? Disagree? Anything useful for curious, aspiring graduate students to know? (Besides that they probably would be unwise to put all their eggs in an aesthetic basket?)

Readers may also be interested in the ASA’s graduate study guide here. It doesn’t contain any ranking information, but does have a nice list of programs and their associated faculty who are interested in aesthetics. (Although I notice it doesn’t include *cough* my own institution…)

Image credit: Korry Benneth, numbers via Flickr


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AESTHETICS JOBS

Here are the precious few aesthetics jobs, gathered in one spot.

Update: One expired job has been deleted. Thanks to Michael X for the update – check the comments for another couple of ads. And do follow the ASA Facebook page for further info.

(Note: If you are on a search committee and are specifically seeking aesthetics and philosophy of art in some capacity, and your job isn’t listed here, please let me know.)

(Note 2: If you work outside academia and would be interested in hiring people with Philosophy PhDs working on aesthetics, please let me know and I’ll post those job ads as well.)

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