The American Society for Aesthetics held its Eastern Division meeting on April 3rd and 4th at the Best Western Independence Park Hotel in Old City, Philadelphia. Approximately seventy people from the US and Canada attended the conference. David Clowney (Rowan University) and Bill Seeley (Bates College) served as program co-chairs. The program for the meeting was wide ranging both in the philosophical approaches represented and the arts discussed. There were sessions on the philosophy of film, photography, literature, visual art, theater, music and comics, as well as on Chinese art and art across cultures. Several papers dealt with Kantian aesthetics, and several touched on the relation between art and ethics.
On Friday afternoon, in a variation on the “author meets critics” theme, a panel of newspaper arts critics discussed Noël Carroll’s recent book On Criticism and the practice of criticism with Professor Carroll. During a second set of panels on Saturday morning and afternoon, neuropsychologists Andrea Halpern and Anjan Chatterjee and philosophers Christopher Bartel and John Kulvicki discussed recent findings in the cognitive neuroscience of music and visual art, and their relevance to questions in philosophical aesthetics.
Conferees traveled to Temple University’s center-city campus on Friday evening to hear Columbia University professor Lydia Goehr deliver Temple’s annual Beardsley Lecture. Her topic was “Broken Strings, Dismembered Bodies: Paragonal Theses on the Embodiment and Disembodiment of Music.” She explored it through a rich series of images from art history, and traced themes related to music and the contest of the arts from antiquity to the present day.
Professor Carolyn Korsmeyer of the University at Buffalo (SUNY) brought the meeting to a satisfying close on Saturday with her lively and original plenary lecture, “Chasing Auras”, in which she suggested that the notion of an art work’s or artifact’s aura, first introduced by Walter Benjamin, might be usefully explicated in terms of the philosophically neglected sense of touch. Professor Korsmeyer’s lecture was followed by a reception at the hotel, after which many conferees retired to a local restaurant, Patou, for dinner and jazz performed by Aesthetic Attitude, featuring ASA members Phil Alperson, John Carvalho and Casey Haskins.
Next year’s conference organizers, elected at the division’s business meeting, will be Bill Seeley and Tiger Roholt.