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Virtual Summer Aesthetics Festival
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Virtual Summer Aesthetics Festival, May - August 2020

5/1/2020 to 8/14/2020
When: May - August 2020
Where: United States
Contact: American Society for Aesthetics

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The American Society for Aesthetics is pleased to present the Virtual Summer Aesthetics Festival to enable the sharing of work-in-progress by ASA members with others for the purposes of dialogue and discussion. This service was offered through August 2020.

Thanks to everyone who presented their work and especially to all who attended!


Are you interested in presenting your work?

What ASA members need to provide:

  • A paper or panel presentation arranged by the ASA member to be live-streamed on Zoom, or a comparable vehicle widely available via Internet at no charge for persons interested in viewing
  • A specific date and time when the live stream will be available
  • Information on how to access the session or sign up for it, depending on the medium used
  • Information on how to obtain a copy of the paper in advance of the session, if the member wishes to make that available

This information should be sent by e-mail to the

What the ASA will do:

  • Provide minimal review to ensure that the presentation is appropriate for distribution by ASA as part of the Virtual Summer Aesthetics Festival

o   Any paper or panel previously scheduled for the cancelled 2020 Pacific or Eastern ASA programs will be automatically considered appropriate for distribution

o   For others, the Secretary-Treasurer will ask one or two officers or trustees for a quick review for appropriateness

o   The goal is to screen out material inappropriate for publicity by ASA, such as scammers, material unrelated to aesthetics, etc.

  • Distribute a list of available presentations with names of presenters, titles of presentations, time and date of presentation, access information

o   The list will be distributed weekly or bi-weekly, depending on interest, to ASA bulk email, web page, ASA-Facebook, Twitter, and Philos-L

Persons with questions about participation in the festival should contact secretary-treasurer@aesthetic-online



Jonathan Gingerich: 'The Spontaneity of Genius: Kantian Genius Reconstructed'
22 April 2020, 5:00-7:00 PM London, Zoom (12-2 pm EDT)

Abstract: I develop an interpretation of Kant’s theory of “genius”—a talent that, according to Kant, is required for the production of all beautiful art—that shows how Kantian genius might avoid charges of elitism and individualism that twenty-first century aestheticians have leveled against the notion of genius. I contend that Kantian genius can be fruitfully understood as the power to act in ways that are not planned out in advance, but that arise “spontaneously.” My interpretation counts a much broader range of actives as expressing “genius” than those activities that are traditionally understood as artistic activities. I further contend that my interpretation of Kantian genius illuminates an underappreciated connection between Kant and Nietzsche: Kant’s genius and Nietzsche’s aesthetic experience both console us to existential suffering by providing us with an opportunity to see ourselves not only in our rational, deliberative faculties, but also in our subconscious drives and dispositions.
The first hour of the session will be devoted to the presentation of the paper and the second hour to discussion. Guests who wish to read the paper in advance are welcome to join at 6:00 PM BST for the discussion.
For a link to the Zoom meeting or details on how to connect by phone, please write to:

To access the Zoom session, please register at the RSVP site:


Thursday, May 28PLEASE NOTE TIME CHANGE5-7 pm London (BST)/ 12 noon - 2 pm New York (EDT)

"Savouring the Impossible"
Sponsored by The Aesthetics Research Centre, University of Kent

Presenter: Jason Leddington (Philosophy, Bucknell; Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow at The Centre for Philosophical Psychology, University of Antwerp)

Abstract: It is a puzzling feature of human beings that we are attracted to artworks that provoke negative emotional responses. Why are we drawn to what should, intuitively, repulse us? Tragedy and horror are paradigm cases, but similar questions are raised by works that provoke, say, disgust or moral outrage. This talk introduces and explores a new version of this old puzzle. My question is: why are we attracted to magic tricks? Magic is one our most consistently popular forms of mass entertainment. Consider the recent successes of performers such as Derren Brown, Dynamo, and David Blaine, as well as the ubiquity of magicians on talent shows such as  America’s Got Talent (thrice won by magicians). But while philosophers speak fondly of the pleasures of knowing, successful magic performances present apparent impossibilities that provoke potent experiences of ignorance. So, why do people seek them out? I argue that recent work in the philosophy and psychology of so-called “knowledge emotions” can help us to resolve this puzzle. At the same time, in a surprising parallel, I show that it can also illuminate the appeal of a distinctive form of puzzlement especially dear to philosophers. Finally, I conclude by proposing an extension of this account to explain our attraction to another “art of the impossible”: the impossible figures created by artists such as Reutersvärd and Escher.

The talk will take place on Zoom. The meeting id and password will be made available to those who register for the talk; please drop a note toAngela Whiffenat to register. Zoom details for the meeting will be sent out on the morning of the talk.


Monday, June 15:5 pm Italy (CEST)/ 11 am New York (EDT)
"The Aesthetic Values in the Living Experience:  From the House to the City" 
Presenter: Aurosa Alison, Politecnico di Milano, Naples, Italy 

Abstract:  In order to theorize the architectural practice of the project as an aesthetic opening phase, we must allow ourselves a reflection on our way of living space. In this study we would like to illustrate the aesthetic and phenomenological aspects of living, as the cognition of being in a sensitive world. In the western conception of living there is a correspondence between the outside and the inside. Our study wants to highlight the relationships between the intimate inhabited space that corresponds to the image of the house and the exterior space that corresponds to the image of the city. How do you live an intimate space? How we live a collective and shared space?

For the complete paper and to sign up for the Zoom session, contact You will be sent the access information for Zoom the morning of the meeting to ensure security.


Wednesday, June 24:5 pm London (BST) / 9 am (PDT)
"Aesthetic Life & Why It Matters: Three Views (Panel)"
Originally scheduled for the ASA Pacific program March 20
  • Bence Nanay (Antwerp): "Aesthetic Experience as Achievement"
  • Nick Riggle (U of San Diego): "Aesthetic Lives: Individuality, Freedom, Community"
  • Dominic McIver Lopes (University of British Columbia): "Getting Into It: Ventures in Aesthetic Life"
  • Mary Beth Willard (Weber State): "Response"
Abstract: Aesthetic Life and Why It Matters is a slim book principally intended to fill a need for material in aesthetics suitable for teaching undergraduates in introductory philosophy courses. The book’s premise is that first-year students are especially aware of their own aesthetic interests at a time when they're in rapid, self-directed flux. Nanay emphasizes how aesthetic life enriches our experience. Riggle emphasizes how aesthetic life allows us to cultivate our individuality in ways that form community. Lopes emphasizes how aesthetic life facilitates explorations of benign value diversity.

This is a pre-read conference on a book draft of ~22k words. To sign up, please write to for the zoom link and a PDF.


Thursday, June 25: 12 noon EDT
“Blackening Aesthetic Experience”
Originally scheduled for the ASA Eastern program April 17

Presenter: Nicholas Whittaker, CUNY Graduate Center, New York

Abstract: Analytic philosophy of aesthetics generally assumes that aesthetic experience is (perhaps necessarily) structured by a "subject/object" dichotomy. I argue that there exists a robust  racial critique of this model of aesthetic experience, one found in the work of underexamined (within philosophy) writers on art and Blackness such as Adrian Piper, Fred Moten, and Ashon T. Crawley. In this paper, I draw out two specific modes of critique - the objectivizing concern and the subjectivizing concern - that articulate the ways in which the subject/object model is bound up in projects of racialization and antiBlackness. 

To sign up, please email for Zoom link (to be sent out the day before) and PDF. 


Wednesday, July 8: 9 am (PDT)/5 pm London (BST)
"Resist. Persist. Simone de Beauvoir’s Aesthetics of Creativity"
Originally scheduled for the ASA Pacific program March 20

Presenter: Peg Brand Weiser (Arizona; Indiana University Purdue University - Indianapolis)

Abstract: How free—in terms of aesthetic, ethical, and political options—is an artist to create? What might cause an artist to self-censor her creativity in light of conflicting notions of freedom? I look to the existentialist writing of twentieth century novelist and philosopher Simone de Beauvoir for a model of the role of freedom within the realm of artistic creativity that enables an artist to “face the truth” of injustice and oppression that can be adopted within contemporary “Resistance” movements worldwide. Two examples of controversial artists in the U.S. include Joel Peter-Witkin and Illma Gore.

To sign up, please write to for the zoom link and a PDF.


Tuesday, July 14: 9 am (PDT)/5 pm London (BST)
"Adrian Piper and the Value of Political Art"
Originally scheduled for the ASA Pacific program March 20

Presenter: James Harold (Mount Holyoke College)
Commentator: Rossen Ventzislavov (Woodbury University)

Abstract:This paper discusses and evaluates Piper’s arguments about the value of certain kinds of political art. It begins by setting out Piper’s arguments and illustrating them with a discussion of one of Piper’s own artworks, and situating her views in the cognitivist tradition. Second, it critically evaluates Piper’s arguments, and raises some doubts about whether they succeed. Piper has two main arguments for the value of political art. First, she argues that art has the power to dislodge morally dangerous ideologies by undermining the cognitive mechanisms that prop them up. Second, she argues that “unconventional” artworks can disrupt stable social norms that serve to perpetuate inequality. Some norms benefit certain social groups while harming others; unconventional political art can destabilize those norms. The first of these mechanisms works by changing the psychology of individuals, the second by changing the status of norms in society. The paper then turns to a problem that Piper notices with one of her own artworks, Four Intruders Plus Alarm Systems (1980). After the first exhibition of this work, Piper concluded that it did not have the intended political effect on audiences. If the value of political art lies at least partly in its ability to actually promote self-examination, then a work of art that fails to secure this aim seems to be less valuable as an artwork. The paper concludes that there are a pair of tensions in Piper’s aesthetic theory: first, a tension between Piper’s stated aims for political art, and the possibility that such works might not achieve these aims; and second, a tension between the qualities that a work needs to achieve its political aims and the qualities that it needs to achieve greatness as art. 

To sign up, please write to for the zoom link and a PDF. 


Thursday, July 23: 12 noon PDT/3pm EDT/8 pm London BST

Panel on Robert Stecker's Intersections of Value: Art, Nature, and the Everyday (Oxford University Press, 2019)
Originally scheduled for the ASA Pacific program March 21

Chair: Stephen Davies (University of Auckland)
  • Derek Matravers (Open University), "Stecker on the Aesthetic and the Artistic"
  • Julianne Chung (York University), "Stecker on Interacting Values in Art"
  • Tom Leddy (San Jose State University), "Talking as Walk with Bob"
Author's response: Robert Stecker (Central Michigan University)

Abstract: This book is about the universal human need to aesthetically experience the world around us. To this end, it examines three appreciative contexts where aesthetic value plays a central role: art, nature, and the everyday. The book concludes by asking: what is the place of the aesthetic in a good life? An equally important theme explores the way the aesthetic interacts with other values—broadly moral, cognitive, and functional ones. No important appreciative practice is completely centered on a single value and such practices can only be fully understood in terms of a plurality of intersecting values. Complementing the study of aesthetic appreciation are: (1) An analysis of the cognitive and ethical value of art; (2) an attempt to answer fundamental questions in environmental aesthetics, and an investigation of the interface between environmental ethics and aesthetics; and (3) an examination of the extent to which the aesthetic value of everyday artifacts derives from their basic practical functions. The book devotes special attention to art as an appreciative context because it is an especially rich arena where different values interact. Artistic value is complex and pluralistic, a value composed of other values. Aesthetic value is among these, but so are ethical, cognitive, and art-historical values.

To register for the session and receive the commentaries, please write to Stephen Davies at


Tuesday, July 28: 12 noon EDT

"Hair Straightening in the Hispanic Caribbean Race, Commodification, Neurosis, and Passing Mestizidad"
Originally scheduled for the ASA Eastern program April 17

Presenter:  Kimberly Aimée Alvarado, IDSVA

Abstract: The signifier “straight hair” within the Hispanic Caribbean community can be interpreted through the lenses of four inventions: the invention of race , the invention of a fetish-commodity; the invention of a neurosis ; and the invention of passing mestizidad . The artwork of Firelei Báez, Ellen Gallagher, and Lorna Simpson depict ways in which different forms of hair wear and modification have been utilized in order to contend with the phenomenon of pelo malo or “bad hair.” Contextualizing the artwork of these three contemporary artists within Kantian theories of race, Fanonian psychological theories of the psycho-affective predicament of colonized people, and Marxist theories of the political economy of customs, contribute to an understanding of the origins of inferiority complexes, concomitant obsessive neuroses, and social biases experienced by Hispanic Caribbean and Afro-ethnicities with African, or “problematic” hair.

To sign up, please email for Zoom link (to be sent out the day before) and PDF. 


Thursday, August 13: 9am PDT/12pm EDT/5pm London BST

Panel on Josh Robinsons's Adorno's Poetics of Form (SUNY Press, 2018) 

Lillian Hingley (University of Oxford)
Robert Ryan (University of Illinois at Chicago)
Author's response: Josh Robinson (Cardiff University)

Abstract: Adorno’s Poetics of Form is the first book-length examination of the elusive deployment of the concept of form in Adorno’s writings on art and literature, and the first monograph to offer a comprehensive account of the relation of these writings to his broader philosophical project. It examines form within the constellation of concepts that exist around it, considering how it appears when seen in conjunction with and in opposition to content, expression, genre, and material. Illuminated from these angles, form is revealed as the site of a complex web of dynamic conceptual interactions. The book thus offers a resolution to a problem in Adorno’s work that has remained unsolved for several decades, and in doing so sets out the consequences of Adorno’s poetics for literary and critical theory today.

We will hear critical comments on the book from Lillian Hingley and Robert Ryan, a response by the author, followed by open discussion -- this is likely to touch on questions such as those of aesthetic, literary and poetic form, the concepts of aesthetics, the relationship between aesthetics and poetics, Marxist and Marxian aesthetics, and the relationship between art and society.

To register and receive the Zoom link:


Please note: 

  • Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in these virtual events will not necessarily reflect those of the American Society for Aesthetics.
  • All presenters will be asked to certify that they are not in violation of intellectual property rights, nor including material which is defamatory or obscene.
  • Persons participating in the virtual events assume responsibility for any security or privacy risks presented by the virtual medium used.


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