AESTHETICS FOR BIRDS

Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art for Everyone


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DIVERSIFY YOUR PHILOSOPHY OF ART READING LIST WITH THESE 60+ BIPOC AUTHORS

If you’re prepping a syllabus for the fall, you’re probably thinking about how to make your reading list more diverse or even how to decolonize your own and your students’ thinking about aesthetics and philosophy of art.

In an effort to help people do this, I’ve compiled the below list of suggested pieces by BIPOC authors, members of racial and ethnic groups that have often been marginalized in Western, Anglo-European philosophy, especially in the analytic tradition.

When multiple pieces are available, I have selected based on topic and suitability for teaching at the undergraduate level.

I hope that this list will aid efforts to build better syllabi, as well as expand your own personal reading and research!

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GETTING PAST FORM: ON THE VALUE OF LITERARY IDEAS

 

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What follows is a guest post by Patrick Fessenbecker.

In a recent column in The New York Times, Ross Douthat contends that English professors aren’t having the right kind of arguments. Reflecting on the analysis of the decline of the humanities in a series of essays in the Chronicle of Higher Education over the last year, Douthat makes a familiar diagnosis: the problem is that we literature professors no longer believe in the real value of the objects we study. Engaging Simon During’s account of the decline of the humanities as a “second secularization” in particular, Douthat argues that secular attempts to defend the humanities will fail just as surely as secular attempts to defend religious ethics and norms did: it doesn’t work unless you really believe in the thing. Correspondingly, the debates literary scholars are having about how to expand the range of texts and subjects we teach are premised on a basic mistake about what such an expansion involves. As he puts it:

This should, by rights, be a moment of exciting curricular debates, over which global and rediscovered and post-colonial works belong on the syllabus with Shakespeare, over whether it’s possible to teach an American canon and a global canon all at once. Instead, humanists have often trapped themselves in a false choice between “dead white males” and “we don’t transmit value.”

In other words, we ought to be in the business of considering how our conceptions of value and their application should change as scholars recognize the incredible cultural wealth inherent in the diversity of the world. But instead we’re caught between reactionary conservatism and nihilistic critique. Continue reading


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ASA Releases Statement Amidst Growing Concern

The American Society for Aesthetics (ASA) have released a statement regarding the renewed interest and concern surrounding last year’s sexual harassment incident and their policies on discrimination, harassment, and respectful behavior. The text of their statement is reproduced below. Continue reading


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Update: How is the American Society for Aesthetics Doing on Diversity and Inclusion?

Last November, we reported an accusation of sexual harassment at the American Society for Aesthetics (ASA) Annual Meeting. ASA member Anne Eaton wrote:

“One alleged case of sexual harassment by a senior man toward a junior woman. I say “alleged” because the case has not been (nor will it be) officially adjudicated, although it has been reported to ASA governance. I know the details of this case and find it 100% credible. In fact, I have myself in the past had trouble with the senior male philosopher in question.”

We also reported that, in response,

“…the ASA leadership took immediate and decisive action in response to the report of sexual harassment. In addition to sending a forceful message to the harasser, ASA leadership immediately set up a committee to develop an official policy on sexual harassment.”

The ASA has recently released new policies regarding discrimination (including best practices and how to process and handle accusations). However, it remains to be seen how and to what extent these policies will be implemented.

Quite worryingly, AFB has received reports from credible sources that the accused harasser is on the program for the upcoming ASA Annual Meeting in Toronto. We feel that it is the responsibility of this blog to make this information known. It is the responsibility of members and concerned parties to respond in whatever ways they deem appropriate.


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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 the third 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.

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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. Continue reading


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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 second 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?

What follows 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.

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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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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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ASA to Award Diversity Curriculum Grants

The American Society of Aesthetics is pleased to announce the 2017 competition for Curriculum Diversification Grants.  Up to three grants for up to $5,000 each will be awarded in 2017.  The application deadline is May 1, 2017.

Coloured lithograph, 1868, depicting a double rainbow, by René Henri Digeon after Étienne Antoine Eugène Ronjat

Grantees will develop detailed annotated reading lists, complete with background reading, that are organized into modules covering core areas in aesthetics/philosophy of art. The idea here is not to develop modules oriented primarily around gender, race, disability, etc., but, rather, to promote diversity at the heart of mainstream aesthetics and philosophy of art.  Modules should be usable in, for instance: introduction to aesthetics/philosophy of art courses; courses on particular historical figures or movements (e.g., Plato’s or Aristotle’s aesthetics, Medieval aesthetics, Scottish Enlightenment aesthetics, Continental aesthetics); courses devoted topics or problems within core areas in aesthetics/philosophy of art (e.g., Fiction, Film, Narrative, Music, Depiction, Art and Ethics, Ontology of Art, Definitions of Art, Theories of the Aesthetic).

These modules can be “diverse” in a variety of ways by: (1) centrally featuring writing by members of underrepresented groups; (2) including works that give significant philosophical attention to artworks by members of underrepresented groups or from the non-European tradition; (3) devoting significant philosophical attention to topics related to members of underrepresented groups (e.g., disability in philosophy of dance, the relevance of social standpoint to aesthetic judgment, objectification and the genre of the nude, racist jokes and the ethics of humor, implicit bias in aesthetic judgment, and so on).

Each grantee should produce at least 30 English-language readings each (including translations into English), organized according to topics (or “modules” as described above) within mainstream aesthetics. (As noted above, modules include, but certainly are not limited to: ontology of art, definitions of art, theories of the aesthetic, depiction, metaphor, imagination and make-believe, taste, beauty, art and ethics, humor, historical topics such as medieval aesthetics, or any of the individual arts.) Each suggested reading should come with an annotation of at least one paragraph that gives a general summary of the reading and explains how it fits in the broader topic of the module. The citation for the reading should indicate sufficient information so that the reading can be readily obtained by potential users for teaching (e.g., journal article in a widely available database, book chapter generally available at North American libraries). Grantees must agree to respond to one round of requested revisions when deemed necessary by the review committee.

Previous successful projects are available at: http://aesthetics-online.org/?CurriculumGrants

Winning authors will retain copyright in their own modules, but the ASA reserves a non-exclusive royalty-free license to publish the winning modules for its own official purposes, including (but not limited to) publication on the ASA web site. Each author must certify that the module has not previously been published in either print or on-line media.

Applications should include:

  • Separate cover sheet with applicant’s name and contact information
  • CV
  • Detailed description of the project (no more than 1,500 words).
  • Budget and justification for the budget
    • Applicants may request funds for a summer stipend at the applicant’s regular institutional rate.
    • The budget can also include the cost of books purchased for this project.

Applications should be prepared for anonymous review, in either Word or PDF format.  The applicant’s name and contact information appearing only on a separate cover sheet and, of course, CV.  Applications will be reviewed anonymously by members of the ASA’s Diversity Committee, Feminist Caucus Committee, and Board of Trustees.  Only one proposal per applicant.  All decisions are final.  Applicants must be members of the ASA.

No grant will be awarded if, in the opinion of the judges, no proposal of sufficient merit and appropriateness is received.

Applications should be directed to A.W. Eaton, Diversity Committee Co-Chair, at: eaton.aw@gmail.com  Deadline for receipt of applications is 5 pm CDT Monday, May 1, 2017.  Grantees will be announced by Friday, June 2, 2017.  Projects due by Monday, August 21, 2017, unless otherwise requested and approved.

The complete CFA in PDF format is available here:

http://aesthetics-online.org/resource/resmgr/files/diversity/Curriculum.Diversification.C.pdf