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2009 Canadian Society for Aesthetics
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About thirty-five scholars attended the CSA’s annual meeting at Carleton University in Ottawa, from 27-29 May. The meeting was held concurrently with about fifty other societies under the sponsorship of the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences. Although most of the participants were from Canadian universities, a number of U.S. scholars found their way to Canada’s capital city, where all could enjoy the camaraderie that has come to distinguish the CSA’s small and intellectually stimulating meetings.

The papers covered a wide range of aesthetic interests. The meeting opened with a session on depictive representation (M. Carleton Simpson’s “Depiction and Detection in Still and Moving Photographs” and Reed Winegar’s “Do Trompe l’Oeil Paintings Represent?”); a session on natural aesthetics followed (John H. Brown’s “Beautiful Functionality” and Andrew Peter Ross’s “Emotional Finality: In Defense of Carroll’s Arousal Model”). A session on Kantian aesthetic theory included papers by G. Anthony Bruno (“Aesthetic Value, Intersubjectivity and the Absolute Conception of the World”) and Kurt Mertel (“Kant’s Aesthetics and the Hermeneutics of Art”); and a session on Aristotle included a paper by Ira Newman (“On the Road with Oedipus: Aristotle on Understanding Characters in the Poetics and Ethics”).

In a session on irony, papers were presented by Alexei Procyshyn (“The Irony of Kierkegaard’s Aesthetic”) and Victor Yelverton Haines (“The Performing Arts and Musical Irony”); and a session under the broad heading of “public appearances” joined Glenn Parsons’s “The Value of Human Beauty” and Emma Lind’s essay on the politics of museum exhibitions (“Revisiting Into the Heart of Africa Once More”). Film aesthetics drew a provocative response in two sessions: Evan Wm. Cameron’s “Robert Towne, Chinatown and the Bewitchments of ‘Tone’” (exploring narrative incoherence in Chinatown’s screenplay, particularly the film’s final scene); and a symposium devoted first to screening filmmaker Peter Forgacs’s Wittgenstein Tractatus, followed by papers on the film’s cinematic aspects (by Christina Stojanova) and then its correlations with Wittgenstein’s philosophical program (by Béla Szabados).

The meeting’s final day featured a joint session of the CSA and the Canadian University Music Society. A benefit in meeting concurrently with other societies is cross-disciplinary contact, enabling scholars in neighboring fields to recognize individual yet often common lines of interest. The joint session was held in two segments. In the morning papers were presented by Joel Rudinow (“Bio-Rhythms: From Formalism to Somaesthetics”), Geordie McComb (“Towards a Revised Goodmanian Account of Musical Works”) and John Dyck (“Against Levinson’s Instrumentation Requirement”). The afternoon part included papers by David Cecchetto (“Music and Catachresis: Lachenmann’s … zwei Gefuhle … in the Theatre of Judith Butler”), Michael Szekely (“On a Spade Reddened in the Fire: Surrealism, Philosophy and Improvised Jazz”) and Michael W. Morse (“Cinderella at the Corner of Broadway and 52nd St.: Some Aristoxenian Notes on the Sociology of Contemporary Harmony”). Special thanks to Murray Dineen for proposing the joint session and for facilitating the project from the Canadian University Music Society side.

While the unhurried pace of the program encouraged ample discussion opportunities among attendees, socializing was enhanced this year by two events. One was the annual CSA banquet dinner held at the charming Canal Ritz, on the bank of Ottawa’s historic Rideau Canal. The second was a reception organized by our French-speaking colleagues in the Society, François Chalifour and Suzanne Foisy – to whom we are very grateful. It was a nice chance for all to come together in the convivial atmosphere established in these two settings.

Congratulations to Reed Winegar and Andrew Peter Ross, who are the English-language winners of the best graduate paper submissions this year. And many thanks to our local arrangements coordinator, Jeanette Bicknell, for her meticulous care with all the details that need attending for a conference to run as smoothly as this one did: this includes a taste test at several Ottawa restaurants, before finding our banquet winner. Finally, as English-language program chair, let me thank all the participants, whose well-crafted papers and good critical sense made this such a stimulating and enjoyable meeting.

Glenn Parsons () has accepted the position as English-language program chair for next year’s meeting in Montreal, which will be held at Concordia University, 28-30 May 2010.

Ira Newman

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