The 68th Annual Meeting of the ASA was held in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, from 27-30 October 2010. The conference was located at the Fairmont Empress, a beautiful and historic hotel in the center of Victoria, across from a picturesque harbor and a block from the provincial Parliament building. It was the first time in many years that the ASA held its general meeting outside of the United States, and it was a lovely change of venue for the roughly 130 attendees.
The program committee, chaired by Daniel Nathan, selected as an organizing theme/title for the conference, “Crossing Borders: Exploring Connections Between Philosophical Aesthetics and Other Studies of the Arts.” In doing so, it sought both to take note of literally crossing the border into Canada, and also to encourage a broad and diverse range of submissions to reflect the wide range of intellectual, demographic, philosophical and artistic perspectives that bear on aesthetics. The Committee was delighted to find an especially appropriate speaker for the plenary session, Professor Rebecca Tsosie, Executive Director of the Indian Legal Program and Faculty Fellow at the Center for Law and Global Affairs at the University of Arizona School of Law. Her plenary address suggested how philosophical analyses of the notions of art and artifact could fruitfully inform legal issues surrounding the cultural appropriation of indigenous land and work. The presentation produced a great deal of interest among attendees, and that interest was sustained in discussions both inside and outside the formal meetings at the conference. It is to be hoped that this introduction will lead to productive collaboration between philosophers and lawyers in the future.
The papers and panels did indeed reflect the rich diversity of members’ interests, with book sessions and panels on politics in art curatorship, on the cultural appropriation of works of art, on courtroom artists, on philosophy and soul music, on connecting metaphor to moral sensitivity, on autobiography, on Hegel and contemporary music, on British empiricist aesthetics, and on black film and film noir. In celebrating the 20th anniversary of the ASA Feminist Caucus, the conference also held its first ever poster session, with engaging exhibits contributed by seven participants. The poster session was very well received, and the suggestion was made to use the new format in a still broader fashion at future meetings.
Twenty-nine individual papers were accepted out of forty-four submissions. The topics of the accepted papers were dominated by work on aesthetic moralism and on Hume and Kant. But, among other topics, there were also papers presented on environmental aesthetics, architectural and artistic conservation, epistemological and ontological questions about literary, theatrical, cinematic and musical works, as well as a session on Susanne Langer, music and dance.
The conference was anchored by Jenefer Robinson’s wonderful Presidential Address on Friday night. Titled “On Being Moved by Architecture,” the talk gave hints of the movement of President Robinson’s own research from the musical into the architectural realms. Just prior to the Presidential Address, the Selma Jeanne Cohen Award for scholarship in dance was given to Marcia Siegel for Mirrors & Scrims: The Life and Afterlife of Ballet (Wesleyan University Press, 2010). As usual, there were two delightful and well-attended receptions during the conference, one on the opening night and another immediately after the Presidential Address. The final afternoon of the meeting was left open so that participants could take advantage of the various artistic, garden, and culinary tours available there in Victoria, on a weekend that turned out to be unseasonably bright and sunny.
In setting up the program, the program chair was very ably assisted by a committee consisting of Anne Eaton, Cynthia Freeland, Kathleen Higgins, Andrew Kania, John Kulvicki, Paisley Livingston, David Saltz, and Paul Taylor, and by the local arrangements chair, James Young.
Daniel O. Nathan