The 71st Annual Meeting of the American Society for Aesthetics was held at The Declan Suites in San Diego, California from October 30 to November 2, 2013.
The 2013 program committee decided to put out a general call for papers rather than suggesting a theme or range of themes. We received 79 papers and 16 panel proposals and accepted 35 papers and 8 panels. (For comparison: In 2011, 59 papers and 3 panels were submitted – 40 papers and all 3 panels were accepted. In 2012, 57 papers and 8 panels were submitted – 36 papers and 4 panels were accepted.) The program committee organized an additional 7 panels. We were able to fit all of this in because we scheduled four break-out sessions per time slot on Thursday and Friday. Although there were worries that four concurrent sessions might generate attendee frustration, the overall effect was to create a lively and diverse program. I recommend continuing this policy in the future.
One of the most exciting aspects of this year’s conference was the high level of student involvement. 16 graduate students presented papers, and a number of the commentators and session chairs were also students. The ASA’s very generous student travel grant policy helps make this level of student participation possible. I am glad that the Trustees have agreed to fund an annual prize for the best student paper at the conference – hopefully this will encourage even more student participation.
So submissions and refereeing standards were both up significantly this year, student participation was high, and overall participation also appears to have increased. 182 people registered to attend the conference! Although there are some concerns about membership numbers, this year’s conference suggests that we ought to be quite positive about the future of aesthetics and the ASA.
Conference panels focused on the following topics: aesthetics and implicit bias, the aesthetics of wine, Friday Night Lights, the art of portraiture, artworks and place, aesthetics and the senses, the law and aesthetics, smell in art and everyday aesthetics, contemporary Chinese art, the aesthetics of videogames, risk in musical performance, and fraudulent fictions. There were also three author-meets-critics sessions: on Stephen Davies’ The Artful Species, Christy Mag Uidhir’s Art and Abstract Objects, and Tzachi Zamir’s Acts: Theater, Philosophy, and the Performing Self. Colloquium papers focused on both traditionally popular topics (Hume and Kant, the nature of depiction, aesthetic judgment, the institutional theory, fiction) and topics that have not often been addressed at past ASA meetings (the aesthetics of street art, the aesthetics of sport, museums, architectural theory, James Turrell).
The 2013 Wollheim Memorial Lecture was delivered by Gregory Currie, whose address ‘The Sicilian Defence: On Fiction and Imagination’ addressed criticisms of his broadly Gricean account of fiction. The photographer, James Welling, gave an artist’s talk entitled ‘The Mind on Fire’. Nick Diehl presented his 2013 John Fisher Memorial Prize winning essay: ‘Satire, Analogy, and Moral Philosophy’.
Many fish tacos, American and Mexican breakfasts, bowls of pho, plates of chicken mole, and pints of IPA were enjoyed. Some productive and stimulating time was spent at the beach. Attendees also enjoyed Joan Pearlman’s exhibit of photographs from past ASA meetings.
I would like to the program committee: Diarmuid Costello, David Davies, Cynthia Freeland, Ivan Gaskell, Karen Gover, Sheila Lintott, Nick Stang, and Grant Tavinor. They were a creative, efficient and responsible team. I also owe thanks to Jennifer Judkins and Dabney Townsend who made huge contributions to the planning and organization of the conference. Two past program chairs, Rachel Zuckert and James Shelley, provided me with useful advice.
I am very pleased that the Board of Trustees has agreed to provide future conference committees with $5000 per year to enhance the Annual conference.
Next year in Texas!