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1996 ASA Eastern Division Meeting
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March 29-30, Corning, New York

The Eastern Division of the ASA met this year in Corning, New York from March 29th to 30th, with sessions divided between the Day’s Inn and the Corning Glass Museum.

A guest lecture by Susanne Frantz, Curator of 20th Century Glass and author of Contemporary Glass: A World Survey from the Corning Museum of Glass, provided members with historical and cultural information on relationships between changes in glass technology and creativity as well as a challenge to think more critically about issues in the aesthetics of glass. Encouraging ASA members to visit the museum and respond critically to the pieces and their juxtaposition, she noted that in the past it has been difficult for even highly educated or philosophically trained viewers to get beyond the sheer beauty of the material or forms of glass.

Other plenary speakers were Berys Gaut, currently at the University of Maryland, whose paper “Metaphor and the Concept of Art” dealt with the problem of language used in aesthetic descriptions of works, and Henry Frankl, University of Missouri Kansas City, on “Glass: The Honey that Can Be Turned into Anything.”

A rare intersection of phenomenological and post-analytic perspectives took place at several paper sessions. David Brubaker used the later work of Merleau-Ponty to discuss “Aesthetics and the Flesh of the Body,” and was followed by Christopher Perricone’s memorable Kafkaesque thought-experiment, “Bugged Out: A Reflection on Art Experience.” Both papers dealt with body, art, and experience, but from very different perspectives, generating a good exchange of views. (In addition to a “confession” by a member of the audience that he, too, was a “bug.”)

A session on Gary Hagberg’s Art as Language: Wittgenstein, Meaning and Aesthetics with a response by Casey Haskins also created thoughtful responses from Hagberg about future directions of his work and critical reflection from the audience about a book well worth reading.

Glass, its aesthetic, physical, cultural and historical properties, dominated the final day of the conference in a session featuring papers by Suzanne Gandell, “Femme/Fleur/Femme Fatale: Woman, Nature and an Aesthetic of the Ugly” and Barbara Sandrisser, “Shadows and Reflections: Playing With Light.”

Sarah Fowler, Ira Newman and John Brown were thanked for organizing this year’s meeting. David Fisher, North Central College, and Don Keefer, Rhode Island School of Design, will serve as Program Chairs for the 1997 meeting.

David Fisher

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