About twenty-five scholars attended the CSA’s annual meeting, at the University of Manitoba from May 30 to June 1 this year. The meeting was held along with fifty or so other Canadian societies under the auspices of the Canadian Federation of the Humanities and Social Sciences. Although most of the participants were from Canadian universities, proximity to U.S. cities, a favorable exchange rate, affordable lodging and the Society’s cordial ambience brought a number of U.S. scholars north of the border as well. There were also participants from France and Finland in attendance.
A highlight this year was an architectural walking tour of downtown Winnipeg’s historic Exchange District, led by Jino Distasio, from the University of Winnipeg’s Urban Studies Institute. The tour was capped by an enjoyable dinner at the spectacular Palm Room of the Fort Garry Hotel. Everyone agreed this break from the disciplined setting of an academic conference was both a pleasure in itself and a stimulating way to learn something of the rich aesthetic heritage of the host city. Many thanks to our local arranger, Doug Arrell, from the University of Winnipeg, for all his careful planning of these events.
The paper presentations and commentaries were of uniformly high quality and covered a wide range of topics. There was a session devoted to Wollheim (Bence Nanay’s “Is Twofoldness Necessary for Representational Seeing?” and M. Carleton Simpson’s “Wollheim on Representation and Presentation,” with comments by Roger Shiner); and a session on the photographic image (Evan Wm. Cameron’s “Michelson, Morley & Me: How We See, Hear and Hear Movies” and Neb Kujundzic’s “The Phenomenology of Photography,” the latter read by Will Buschert, with comments on both papers by Carl Simpson).
Topics in literary aesthetics were taken up in three papers: Roger Seamon’s “The Trouble with Expressive Ideas in Fiction,” John E. MacKinnon’s “Catherine Bush and the Concept of Dread” and Michelle Weinroth’s “Misreading Morris: The Aporiai of Utopia and the Aesthetics of Ruralist Englishness,” with comments on the last paper by Roger Seamon. Four papers focused on issues in environmental aesthetics: Christian Denker’s “Nature et imagination dans la philosophie de Martin Seel,” Yrjö Sepänmaa’s “How to Speak of Mount Koli? The Exemplary Position of Koli in Environmental Research,” Glenn Parsons’s “Knowledge, Perception and the Aesthetic Appreciation of Nature” and Ira Newman’s “The Dream of an Autonomous Natural Aesthetic: Leopold and Callicott on the Land Aesthetic.” Various issues in general art theory were the subject of four papers: Sheldon Wein’s “Thinking How to Appreciate Art: Expressivism and Aesthetic Knowledge,” Daniel Groll’s “Why Nick Zangwill’s Moderate Formalism Doesn’t Work,” with comments on the latter by Glenn Parsons; Victor Yelverton Haines’s “When the Elegant Proof of a Theorem Is Not Art” and Jeffrey Strayer’s “Objectivity and Subjectivity and the End of Art,” with comments on the last two by Ira Newman.
Finally, there was one paper on the anthropology of art: Adrienne Dengerink Chaplin’s “Art and Embodiment: Biological Roots and Phenomenological Shoots”; and two papers on themes in musical aesthetics: Bela Szabados’s “What Do Wittgenstein and Hanslick Have in Common?” and Jeff Warren’s “The Reconstruction of Musical Meaning through an Ethically Mandated Hermeneutics,” with comments on the last paper by Robin Lee.
As my luggage was being swept by security at the Winnipeg airport, the guard asked me what I had been doing in Winnipeg. When I told her, she replied, “Oh, you must have learned something there.” My perfunctory answer was, “Yes, I did.” On the plane I realized my answer was not perfunctory. My thanks to all the participants who made the meeting so stimulating and enjoyable.