Aesthetics for Birds

Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art for Everyone

Teaching with AFB

Posts at Aesthetics for Birds (AFB) make excellent teaching resources, both for instructors themselves and as primary or supplementary readings for students. Faculty across many disciplines, universities, and countries already use Aesthetics for Birds posts in their teaching.

On this page:

  1. Why Use AFB?
  2. Existing Syllabus Resources on AFB
  3. How to Find What You Want
  4. Possible Assignments

Why Use AFB?

Accessible: AFB posts are generally written by academics but accessible to a wide audience.

Current: Posts often engage with current events.

Concise: Posts are relatively short, ranging from roughly 500 to 5000 words.

Diverse: Many posts are by philosophers from marginalized groups. These posts are not tagged in a special way, but are readily available so that you won’t have to search far.

Existing Syllabus Resources on AFB

A list of books and articles by women

A list of books and articles by BIPOC authors

A list of books, articles, and lectures on aesthetics and disability

A collection of the “Top 50” key terms in aesthetic theory and philosophy of art, ranging from aesthetics and art to rasa and rhizome, each explained in a few hundred words in ways accessible to those with no previous familiarity

How to use Dungeons and Dragons (and role-playing games generally) to teach ethics courses

How to Find What You Want

Below are some suggestions for pieces from the archive. It is organized according to topics one might find on a syllabus: ontology of art, art and ethics, and so on.

Because it’s a less useful list if we include everything, there’s a lot of good stuff left out. And it’s not as helpful if you’re looking for something on a specific topic (say, cultural appropriation).

To find things on specific topics, explore our tags or use the search function. All of our posts are tagged with keywords, which helps if you’re looking for, say, Black aesthetics or feminism or something related to architecture or music.

Selected Posts Organized by Topic

Definitions and Ontology of Art

Art Criticism and the Art World

Art and Ethics




Internet Art

Other Media: Video and Podcast Series

  • Polite Conversations: Philosophers Discuss the Arts (Brandon Polite), YouTube interviews
    Philosopher interviews other philosophers about their work on accessible and fun topics; contains keywords and suggested readings to pair, ADA-compliant
  • Art Against the World (Vid Simoniti), podcast series
    Philosopher interviews artists and curators about the social relevance of contemporary art; contains overview of episode topics, guests, and brief summary of the philosophical issues.

Possible Assignments

The following suggestions are taken from people who use our articles in their courses.

  • Use it as a reading.
  • Have students pick a roundtable contribution (usually these are relatively short, under 1000 words) and elaborate on the author’s perspective.
  • Pick an interview and have students extract and elaborate on the philosophical implications of something the artist says.
  • Using this piece on punk rock or this one on heavy metal, have students describe central values or ideals of some genre they care about.
  • Using this piece on satire, have students find cases of satire and explain how they confirm or conflict with the author’s view.