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Four Virtual Summer Aesthetics Programs in July

Saturday, July 4, 2020  
Posted by: Julie Van Camp
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The American Society for Aesthetics is pleased to announce four programs in July for the Virtual  Summer Aesthetics Festival. All are open to the public interested in aesthetics.

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. 


The Festival is presenting nine virtual programs this summer. ASA members who would like to present their work, should contact

For more information on the Festival:

more Meetings

5/1/2020 » 8/31/2020
Virtual Summer Aesthetics Festival

9/17/2020 » 9/18/2020
Virtual: Southern Aesthetics Workshop II

Featured Members
CHRISTOPHER JENKINSWinner of the 2020 Irene H. Chayes New Voices Award
Michael NewallWinner of the 2019 Outstanding Monograph Prize

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