AESTHETICS Fall 2011
Dr. Christine A. James
Philosophy 3110 Section A MW 2:00pm-3:15pm WH 104 80547
This syllabus is available online, and will be updated often, at http://mypages.valdosta.edu/chjames/AESTHETICSFall2011.html
Office: 102 Georgia Avenue, First Floor Left Side
Office Hours: MTWR 3:30pm-4:45pm and after classes and by appointment as needed.
Philosophy and Religious Studies Department Office ,
102 Georgia Avenue
, 102 Georgia Avenue
E-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Course content: This course provides an introduction to aesthetic theory. We will address questions about how we define “art,” what we mean by “having aesthetic taste,” what “creativity” is, and if an artist’s intentions matter in the interpretation of a work. The class will incorporate a variety of media, and we will address how visual arts, music, poetry, and even scientific images and models relate to human emotions. This is a reading intensive course, so it will require you to read, think about, and write about a considerable amount of material.
Requirements: Class participation, two written examinations, two papers, presentations.
In accordance with the revised learning outcomes for the Core Curriculum of the Georgia State System, and the VSU Core Curriculum, our course follows the Area C Learning Outcome:
"Students will analyze, evaluate, and interpret diverse forms of human communication."
(In the past,
Philosophy courses at
The Learning Outcomes for PHIL 3110 are:
1. To understand the distinctions among the various sub-fields of aesthetics, including theories of taste, artist intention, form and content analysis as comprising basic branches of the discipline.
2. To recognize how philosophical inquiry applies to ‘real-world’ circumstances and to individual reflection on the meaning of life, self-expression and art criticism.
3. To become conversant with the history of aesthetics and the variety of approaches to aesthetic theory and notions of the beautiful from ancient philosophy to the present.
4. To recognize and define different world views, adopting a reasonably viable one and justifying it in a philosophically informed way that emphasizes critical reasoning and argument.
5. To demonstrate the ability to discuss, in both oral and written discourse, the philosophical issues explored in the course.
6. To be familiar with what academic philosophy is, and to understand how it can be applied to daily life as well as specific careers especially in the arts and museum management.
Members of the faculty in Philosophy and Religious Studies have verified that these outcomes are in line with the outcomes of the course as it is taught at peer institutions in the State System of Georgia.
These course-specific learning outcomes contribute to the departmental learning outcomes of the Philosophy and Religious Studies Major by enabling students better to
1. Explain and analyze central issues, topics, and philosophers in the history
of philosophy, from the ancient to the modern periods.
2. Write and speak critically and logically, applying various theories to specific cases and examples.
3. Explain their own value system, evaluating their values in the context of a diverse range of ideas that inform contemporary controversies and social conflict.
4. Create independent philosophical research, synthesizing a variety of sources, including traditional primary philosophical texts and secondary source
5. Demonstrate a working familiarity with current research methods, citation styles, and presentation techniques.
by Susan Feagin and Patrick Maynard, eds.,
Interpreting Art by Terry Barrett, McGraw Hill, 2003, 9780767416481, 0767416481.
How grades will be calculated:
A = 100 - 90% Class participation, attendance = 20%
B = 89 - 80% 2 Exams at 10% each = 20%
C = 79 - 70% 1 First Paper at 20% each = 20%
D = 69 - 60% 1 Presentation or 1 Final Paper at 40%
F = 59 - 0% Total = 100%
*****Please note that I am not obligated to accept late work or to allow exams after the date given.*****
Exams and Papers:
The exams in our class will be
“short answer” written exams.
Usually I ask six questions and a complete answer should be no less than four
complete sentences. These exams are
“objective” in the sense that the answers can be directly related to class
discussions and the textbook.
Here are some extra links, if you would like to use outside sources and secondary source material:
http://books.valdosta.edu/gal1.html (click on “Full Text Journal Title List”) and
The direct link for the database (Academic Search Complete)
http://www.galileo.usg.edu/express?link=zbac (Click on Academic Search Complete to open the first page with the search box.)
Attendance Policy: I do care that you attend class regularly. As you know, VSU policy is that missing 20% of class meetings results in an automatic grade of “F”. Faculty can also institute added attendance policies in their syllabi. Our class will have a 10% rule for absences. You can miss up to 10% of the class meetings with no grade penalty. 10% of our 40 class meetings is 4. On absence number 5, your final grade for the course will be reduced by one whole letter grade; on absence number 6, your final grade for the course will be reduced by two whole letter grades; on absence number 8, you will automatically fail the course. Be considerate of your fellow students – don’t be late, and don’t leave your cell phones and pagers on. Note that if you are regularly late to class, or leave class early, I will begin to count each as an absence. Please note that this policy makes no distinction between excused and unexcused absences.
Once you arrive at class, make an effort to get involved in the conversation. Don’t hesitate to ask questions if you need clarification or would like more information: if you are confused, it is likely that others are too! The participation percentage you receive will depend on a variety of factors, including (but not limited to) the frequency and helpfulness of your contributions to class discussions and the care you take when peer editing.
Pop Reading Quizzes:
If I notice that there are many students who are not keeping up with the reading, I may periodically administer reading quizzes in class. These will not be announced in advance. No “make-up” quizzes will be given, and a missed quiz will result in a grade of zero. These quizzes are a solid reward for attending class, participating, and keeping up with the readings.
During certain times of the semester, you also will be expected to participate regularly in on-line discussions using WebCT Vista. Use this opportunity to comment on the week’s readings, ask questions, raise objections, and respond to what others have written or said in class.
To log in to Vista and the course “shell,” go to the VSU homepage and click on the words WebCT Vista in the upper right-hand corner. Your username and password are the same as for your BlazeNet e-mail account. For instructions on getting started, go to: http://www.valdosta.edu/vista/
When posting in an online bulletin board, like those in the Discussion area of WebCT Vista, you must (1) post at least one original message of your own, (2) read all the messages posted by others, and (3) respond substantively to at least one message from another student. Your postings are due the same day as the readings are listed in the schedule below (i.e., no later than 11:59 p.m. on the relevant dates.)
Your first message on a given topic should be about 200 words in length. That is roughly the length of two medium-sized paragraphs (e.g., this one and the next). Your second (response) posting can be about half that length, but it should be substantive (i.e., involving serious content). Try not to simply repeat what others have said already. Additional postings can be as long or as short as you desire. Be sure to give the first message an interesting title in the “Subject” line. This will help alert the rest of us as to what it will be about.
When you are ready to respond to someone else, do so by opening their message and hitting the “Reply” button. This will create a “thread” that others can add on to. Keep in mind that although it is fine to disagree with what someone else has said, it is important to do so in a way that is polite and constructive. If someone says something that makes you angry, pause and take a breath before firing off a reply! You can preview your message before you send it, but once you have hit “Post,” your message will no longer be editable.
Members of the
VSU policy mandates that all official communication by e-mail take place through VSU e-mail accounts or through the WebCT Vista Mail tool. Please check your VSU (@valdosta.edu) e-mail account regularly.
Students requiring classroom accommodations or modification because of a documented disability should discuss this need with me at the beginning of the semester. If you are such a student, but you are not registered with the Access Office, you should contact them too. Students requesting classroom accommodations or modifications because of a documented disability must contact the Access Office for Students with Disabilities located in Farber Hall. The phone numbers are 245-2498 (voice) and 219-1348 (tty).
Note: This syllabus is not a legal contract; the content of this course is subject to revision by the professor.
Month/Day Topics for discussion and assignments
8/15 M Introduction to the class
First reading together: Academic Integrity
8/17 W Feagin and Maynard, Introduction and I.a. The Aesthetic
Clive Bell, The Aesthetic Hypothesis
Paul Ziff, Anything Viewed
Frith, Paddington Station http://www.artandarchitecture.org.uk/fourpaintings/pissarro/railways/iron_veins.html
Fildes, The Doctor
Romanesque Churches in Poitiers: Notre Dame La Grande
T’ang Dynasty poetry and painting
Leonardo da Vinci, Ginevra di Benci
Henry Moore, reclining figure sculpture
Vuillard, The Garden at Vaucresson
Vuillard, The Garden at Vaucresson
Klee, Twittering Machine
Albers, Hommage to the Square
8/22 M Special new items: Artists and Athletes: http://teach.valdosta.edu/chjames/artsport.doc
What is Philosophy? Do Philosophy majors get jobs related to that major? Here is some interesting information:
News about what Philosophy majors are up to:
Continue I.a. The Aesthetic:
Allen Carlson, Aesthetic Appreciation of the Natural Environment
Oscar Wilde, The New Aesthetics
John Dewey, The Aesthetic in Experience
Brancusi, Bird in Space
Marcel Duchamp, Fountain
Theodore : http://nga.gov.au/Exhibition/FrenchPainting/Detail.cfm?IRN=126620&ViewID=2
Henri : http://www.artofeurope.com/rousseau/rou15.jpg
8/24 W I.b. Many Aesthetics
Kakuzo Okakura, The Tea-Room
Jun’ichiro Tanizaki, In Praise of Shadows
Friedrich Nietzsche, The Dionysian
Golden Hall of Horyuji
Pagoda of Yakushiji
8/29 M Continue I.b. Many Aesthetics
Joshua C. Taylor, Art and the Ethnological Artifact
Linda Nochlin, Women, Art, and Power
Michael Roemer, The Surfaces of Reality
Haida relief-carved chest
Chou bronzes (
http://www.historyforkids.org/learn/china/history/pictures/westernchou.jpg 1100 BC
http://www.latinamericanstudies.org/zapotecs.htm 300 BC - 700 AD
David, Oath of the Horatii
Delacroix, Death of Sardanapalus
Sir Joseph Noel Paton, In Memoriam
Francisco Goya Lucientes, And They are Like Wild Beasts
Rixens, Death of Cleopatra
Gérôme, The Artist and His Model
Dreyer, Passion de Jeanne d’Arc
Kurosawa, The Seven Samurai, Rashomon
Fellini, Notti di Cabiria
Cezanne, still lifes
Chaplin in The Gold Rush
Bergman, Wild Strawberries
8/31 W II. Why Identify Anything As Art?
II.a. Ideas of Art
Paul Oskar Kristeller, The Modern System of the Arts
Abbé Batteux, The Fine Arts Reduced to a Single Principle
Jean Le Rond D’Alembert, The Arts and Fine Arts
Clifford Geertz, Art as a Cultural System
9/5 M No class, Labor Day
9/7 W Review Day THE REVIEW NOTES: http://mypages.valdosta.edu/chjames/AestheticsNotes.html
After review: First Exam due in WebCT Vista in the Assessment Tool. (I’ll actually give you until Saturday, September 10 at 6pm in case you would like extra time!)
After you finish your first exam, please prepare the first paper with this handout in mind: http://teach.valdosta.edu/chjames/papers3000.htm
For a preview of the grading rubric and points: http://teach.valdosta.edu/chjames/gradingrubric.doc
9/12 M II.b. The Arts in Society
Mark Sagoff, On the Aesthetic and Economic Value of Art
Whitney Chadwick, Women Artists and the Institutions of Art
Griselda Pollock, Modernity and the Spaces of Our Lives
Kathleen Marie Higgins, The Music of Our Lives
Ivan Karp, How Museums Define Other Cultures
Ojibway totems http://www.redbubble.com/people/alycetaylor/art/2466134-ojibway-totem-pole
Angelica Kauffmann and Mary Moser http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Moser
Johann Zoffany, The Academicians of the Royal Academy http://www.uic.edu/depts/ahaa/classes/ah111/L26/26-0.jpg
A bar at the Folies Bergère http://p.giroud.free.fr/manet/bar_folies_bergere.jpg
Mary Cassatt http://www.artcyclopedia.org/art/mary-cassatt-toilette.jpg
Picasso, Demoiselles d’Avignon http://painting-analysis.blogspot.com/2011/01/picasso-les-demoiselles-davignon.html
Berthe Morisot http://artroots.com/art/morisot.jpg http://www.ibiblio.org/wm/paint/auth/morisot/
The harbour at
On the balcony, http://www.abcgallery.com/M/morisot/morisot3.html
On the terrace http://en.wahooart.com/A55A04/w.nsf/Opra/BRUE-8EWCTX
Monet, Garden of the Princess http://www.oceansbridge.com/paintings/artists/m/claude_monet/big/Garden_of_the_Princess__1867.jpg
Music: Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Rolling Stones, Beatles, Sex Pistols, Lou Reed, John Cage 4’33”, Navajo medicinal music, Quranic singing, Japanese folk music (Ainu of Hokkaido Island), Kate Bush (whalesong in Moving)
9/14 W http://mypages.valdosta.edu/chjames/AestheticsNotes2.html
Music examples from Shape Note Singing, Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, Kate Bush
9/19 M III. What Do Artists Do?
Clive Bell, The Metaphysical Hypothesis
John Stuart Mill, What Is Poetry?
9/21 W First Paper Due
(Papers will be turned in by WebCT Vista Assignment Tool.)
9/26 M Leo Tolstoy, What Is Art?
John Hospers, Art As Expression
9/28 W III.b. Artistic Freedom and Creativity
Meyer Schapiro, Diderot on the Artist and Society
Immanuel Kant, Art and Genius
G.W.F. Hegel, Art, Nature, Freedom
The artists’ role in society – examples from architecture
Compare and contrast social and psychological effects of space (living space, museum space)
Mies van der Rohe, Frank Lloyd Wright, I. M. Pei, Frank Gehry
How does Frank Gehry’s work relate to his own personal psychological development?
Do Gehry’s structures reflect the type of genius that Kant described? Do Gehry’s structures involve some aspect of the sublime (greatness, beauty combined with elements of trepidation, fear, awesomeness)
Hegel describes development of architecture through various ages – how do these different time periods resonate with the work of modern and postmodern architecture that developed long after Hegel’s life?
Mies Van Der Rohe
I. M. Pei
I. M. Pei
Hegel on architecture: "[Architecture's] task consists in so manipulating external inorganic nature, that, as an external world conformable to art, it becomes cognate in spirit.” The architecture of a society reflects its spirit and values. In this sense, does the architect have a social responsibility to create architecture that brings about certain goods in society?
10/3 M Please Note: Advising and Preparing to Register for Spring 2012 courses begins now. Make appointments to see your advisor now in mid October, and be ready when Registration opens in Banner on October 31!
Continue III.b. Artistic Freedom and Creativity
Warren L. D’Azevedo, Sources of Gola Artistry
Xie-He, Six Canons of Painting
Su Shih, Painting Bamboo
Wang Ch’Inch’En, Spiritual Excellence
Edgar Allen Poe, The Philosophy of Composition
R. G. Collingwood, Art and Craft
Art in cross-cultural context – the example of the Bollywood film industry.
How do the tropes of American film get taken up in Hindi language film?
Is the cultural transference going in both directions?
Reflect on the
experience of the actors who were raised in Western culture, but in
families who had immigrated from
In Edgar Allen Poe’s reading he describes his process of writing The Raven (finding rhymes, recollecting specific experiences that he used in the poem) Does this process sound accurate, or does it seem like a “rational reconstruction” that makes the process of writing the poem more linear and rational and procedural than it really was? How does the artists’ process affect their work? How does Poe’s life, context, previous experiences influence and enrich his work?
D'Azevedo: Gola People of Liberia, Africa
D'Azevedo: Gola People of Liberia, Africa
the "creative personality"; no distinct term for artist, but a sense of behavior
and general personality of creative people (197); spirits (nature: JIna,
ancestors: anyun fa, witches: ese)
ability or talent: Wo na bene. Play, recreation, entertainment (201) holding a vocation, status that does not depend on the structure of local institutions (204)
Painting and Poetry about Painting in China; 206-207, originality as a primary value, the spiritual excellence of the genius.
Poe: tortured genius, complex personal life. The Raven: originality always in view (208), not a "frenzy" of creative writing, more of a process of carefully choosing impressions to convey (210), precision, linear process of writing.
10/5 W IV. Can We Ever Understand an Artwork?
Monroe Beardsley, The Artist’s Intention
Stephen Davies, Authenticity in Musical Performance
Richard Wollheim, Criticism as Retrieval
Do the artist’s intentions matter in evaluating a work of art or a musical performance?
Beardsley notes that we unavoidably look for the psychological states, the
causes, within the artist's mind. The part that these causes should play in
evaluating, describing and interpreting the work might be variable (224).
Internal and External evidence work together - a painter may tell us their
internal story or their internal thought process in creating a work, and it is
fine as long as it matches the external, the physical evidence of the work
itself. (225) Cases in which the artist is being purposefully
ironic (227) may be the most interesting, where the internal and
the external are exactly the opposite.
Beardsley notes that we unavoidably look for the psychological states, the causes, within the artist's mind. The part that these causes should play in evaluating, describing and interpreting the work might be variable (224). Internal and External evidence work together - a painter may tell us their internal story or their internal thought process in creating a work, and it is fine as long as it matches the external, the physical evidence of the work itself. (225) Cases in which the artist is being purposefully ironic (227) may be the most interesting, where the internal and the external are exactly the opposite.
Davies is interested in "authenticity" in music. Authenticity can mean a
variety of things: an authentic work by Beethoven, an authentic piece of
indigenous music, an authentic performance in the sense of being socially
constructed as a proper music performance with all of the connected goods
(playbill, auditorium, etc.), or authentic in the sense of aiming for an ideal
sound ("This was how it was meant to be played, heard, or performed!") In the
latter case the intention of the original composer enters in. (230-234)
Davies is interested in "authenticity" in music. Authenticity can mean a variety of things: an authentic work by Beethoven, an authentic piece of indigenous music, an authentic performance in the sense of being socially constructed as a proper music performance with all of the connected goods (playbill, auditorium, etc.), or authentic in the sense of aiming for an ideal sound ("This was how it was meant to be played, heard, or performed!") In the latter case the intention of the original composer enters in. (230-234)
Wollheim argues that "criticism is retrieval", that we cannot completely
reconstruct the creative process, but, by giving attention to the mental life of
artists, we can understand the work better. (235) Criticism could also be
revision, in the sense of reporting what is apparent to the critic upon
experiencing the work; or criticism can be scrutiny, analyzing historical and
contextual influences on a work (or making possible connection between this or
that work, which the creator might not have been aware of in any way. (241)
Wollheim argues that "criticism is retrieval", that we cannot completely reconstruct the creative process, but, by giving attention to the mental life of artists, we can understand the work better. (235) Criticism could also be revision, in the sense of reporting what is apparent to the critic upon experiencing the work; or criticism can be scrutiny, analyzing historical and contextual influences on a work (or making possible connection between this or that work, which the creator might not have been aware of in any way. (241)
Examples from the Harlem Renaissance, a time of incredible creativity and artistic achievement among African Americans.
Individuals involved: poets such as Langston Hughes and Jean Toomer, novelists like Ralph Ellison and Zora Neale Hurston, musicians like Duke Ellington and Charlie Parker, and performance artists such as Lena Horne and Paul Robeson; through leaders such as James Weldon Johnson, A. Philip Randolph, and W. E. B. Du Bois, it laid the foundation for what would grow into the extraordinary Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s.
“What is possibly less evident is that the leaders and followers of the Harlem Renaissance were every bit as intent on using black culture to help make the United States a more functional democracy as they were on employing black culture to “vindicate” black people. If the founding fathers and mothers had presented America with a good start in those goals and principles stated so eloquently in the U. S. Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Emancipation Proclamation, then women and men such as journalist Ida B. Wells-Barnett, historian and sociologist W. E. B. Du Bois, performing artist Florence Mills, author and political activist James Weldon Johnson, philosopher Alain Locke, sociologist Charles S. Johnson, and author Langston Hughes all thought the first half of the twentieth century a good time to put such goals and principles into life-saving practice.” http://www.authorsden.com/categories/book_top.asp?catid=10&id=13370
10/10 M Continue IV. Can We Ever Understand an Artwork?
Michael Baxandall, Truth and Other Cultures
Susan Sontag, Against Interpretation
Understanding an artwork does depend on cultural background
Participants understand their culture immediately, spontaneously
Mere observers of a work with a different cultural background will have to “reconstruct” categories for perceiving what would have been obvious or natural to the viewers of the same socio-historical time as the artist
Piero della Francesca, Baptism of Christ (linked above)
Religious image (243), altarpiece, context of patronage system, skills – perspective, proportion – seeing for the artist is “theory-laden” (244)
Painting known for its excellent “commensurazione” – profiles and contours in proper place, in proportion, plus mathematical and language reference (248)
Art is to be perceived, not merely intellectualized
Not in favor of conceptualized views on art, values the experience on non-cognitive grounds
Would argue against: Freudian interpretations of Leonardo portraits, Feminist analysis of Titian nudes, Marxist analysis of Renaissance altarpieces
These interpretations do not help us to understand the work of art - it just inserts “content” where there might not be any
Better to appreciate the “lived experience” of the art work
Interpretations seek to revamp old “texts” to fit the needs of current times – attempt to resolve a discrepancy 250
Interpretations became more aggressive in recent times – contempt for “appearances”, assuming that there must be more content in a work than just its appearance 251
Refusal to “leave a work of art alone” 252
To avoid interpretation, art may become:
Decorative (no content)
Pop art – blatant content, nothing left to say other than what is there 254
10/12 W Continue IV. Can We Ever Understand an Artwork?
Arthur Danto, Deep Interpretation
Nelson Goodman, Art and Authenticity
Roland Barthes, From Work to Text
Deep Interpretations – reveal meanings that are more than the speaker realizes
Some meanings have to be hidden deep for a work to mean what it does
Provides two different surface interpretations reflecting different intentions
“deep” does not mean profound 257
Prophetic revelation – religious, Moses, Hermes 258
Kledon = utterance that means more than the speaker realizes 258
Divination of these concealed meanings would destroy them – hiddenness secures their position, and the position of the interpreters/diviners 259
Marxist – kledons of class strife, instruments of the forces of history in which classes are the true “agents” who make things happen
Vesting economic decisions in humanitarian terms
Freudian – masking unconscious feelings/desires 260
Structuralism – discourse – structure of the unconscious must be the structure of language
The linguistic unconscious – marriage as a kind of language or communication – exchanging women as one would exchange words 261
Last Judgment – Leonardo – reverted to stains over time 262
Surface interpretation – knowing what was depicted 263
Responding to the work is separate
Deep interpretation presupposes that the surface interpretation is already done 263
Counterargument to Sontag
Why these differences are so important – artworks must be understood in the context of art in general, art works are not separate from other artworks, nature, or other artifacts
Rembrandt’s Lucretia and its forgery (a very good forgery) 264
How do we determine authenticity?
What are the relevant aesthetic differences between the two, for any given viewer? For a viewer who cannot see the difference?
Goodman argues that our ability to perceive the difference is not relevant at all 267
Value, and aesthetic significance, and authenticity are all dependent on historical context, the period in which the work was done, its membership in a class (the genuine works of Rembrandt) 268-269
The idea that we should experience a work of art purely by senses is absurd – part of our common nonsense 270
A text has a plurality of meanings
Every text can have meanings extracted from it
Creating meaning in a text is the responsibility of the reader
(the death of the author!)
Our view of language and literary text is changing 270
Linguistics, anthropology, Marxism, psychoanalysis have all changed how we see text
Interdisciplinarity has revitalized how we look at the scriptor (writer)—reader—critic relationship 271
The Text is not a defined object.
The Text is constituted by its subversive force – challenges old classifications
The logic that governs the Text is metonymic (meaning that terms that are
connected can substitute for each other – the Ivory Tower means higher
education, the Big Apple refers to
The Text is radically symbolic 271
The Text is plural and has an irreducible plurality of meanings 272
The work is caught up in a process of interpretation that implies familial relationships – author as father and owner of the work
But the Text is linked to enjoyment, to pleasure, without separation, in a social utopia of its own 274
The Text asks the reader for an active collaboration 273
10/17 M Review Day (Reminder: Registration is opening in Banner on October 31!)
Today will be a short class review day, because Dr. James has to go to an
Academic Committee meeting that conflicts with our class meeting time.
Today will be a short class review day, because Dr. James has to go to an Academic Committee meeting that conflicts with our class meeting time.
10/19 W Second Exam
Are you anticipating having a job interview? Here’s a document that might help!
10/24 M No class, Fall Break
10/26 W V. Why Respond Emotionally to Art?
R. K. Elliott, Aesthetic Theory and the Experience of Art
Kendall L. Walton, Make-Believe and the Arts
Elliott: Artwork often relies on the emotional response of the audience
Experiencing the work of art from the inside or from the outside
Inside – emotional connection to the work, fellow-feeling with those performing particular roles, for example
Outside – comparable to surface interpretation; does not rely on emotional connection of the audience
Work of art should inspire a “self-imagined” sensory representation, which goes beyond mere sensory experiences
Sensory experience is already theory-laden, each sensory experience is related back to our feelings of empathy – imagining ourselves in another’s position
Examples from class: children’s letters and cards for persons in the service; references and examples from the musical Rent
10/31 M Continue V. Why Respond Emotionally to Art?
Aristotle, The Emotions Proper to Tragedy
Aristotle, Emotions and Music
Martha C. Nussbaum, Luck and the Tragic Emotions
Susan L. Feagin, The Pleasures of Tragedy
Aristotle sets up the idea of catharsis with regard to ancient Greek tragedy
Tragedy involves an audience reaction that is not merely fellow feeling, it also involves pity and fear
Nussbaum clarifies this – pity is the audience response for undeserved suffering, and fear is the response when we see that the same thing could happen to us, given different circumstances in life
Examples of cathartic moments from films (struggle is to find examples of tragedy for different ages and different experiences in the audience)
The Fox and The Hound
Dead Poets Society
The Color Purple
11/2 W Continue V. Why Respond Emotionally to Art?
Ted Cohen, Jokes
Edmund Burke, The Sublime: Of Delight and Pleasure
Jerrold Levinson, Music and Negative Emotion
Cohen argues that jokes can involve more than mere amusement, they reflect background beliefs, assumptions, and prejudices, and as such, they set up and reinforce a sense of community
Jokes can also be used to exclude those who simply don’t get it or who are not in on the joke (consider the film The Aristocrats, which is the ultimate in-joke for stand up comedians)
Dave Chappelle, Chris Rock, Mel Brooks, Ben Stiller
Burke discusses the feeling of delight that some works of art give the audience. Delight involves merely removing pain – not a pleasurable feeling on its own. Burke is also writing from the context of the late enlightenment period, and he was deeply concerned with the “revolutions” occurring throughout Europe and America – his political and aesthetic theories often reflect a need for peace or a desire to cease struggle – almost reactionary in his need for comfort, I think examples like Fargo and Notti di Cabiria would relate to his theory. When we have this feeling of delight, and we realize that the danger is not real, that we will be alright, it is associated with the “sublime.” (Note, you could do a great paper comparing and contrasting Kant and Burke on the sublime.)
Levinson discusses feelings of sadness and melancholy that certain types of music can inspire in us. He seems to imply that his main examples are classical music, without an implied or explicit narrative (i.e., no lyrics, with content to interpret.) He gives a theory of why we might want to seek out sad music, in a way related to the need for carthasis or emotional release going back to Aristotle and Nussbaum. I think we could also apply Levinson’s theory to some of the music we have considered earlier, from traditional shape note music, to Rufus Wainwright’s cover of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, to Bob Marley’s No Woman No Cry about his memories of Trenchtown.
The overall theme again is emotional reactions to works of art, and the possible benefits of these emotional reactions.
11/7 M VI. How Can We Evaluate Art?
Curt Ducasse, Criticism as Appraisal
Meyer Schapiro, On Perfection and Coherence in Art
David Hume, Of the Standard of Taste
This section discusses key issues of “taste”. What is good taste, and how is it developed? Most of the theories rely on some notion of experience. This is a tradition that comes from empiricism, the position that all knowledge comes from experience. This experience may be sensory or cognitive.
Ducasse argues that all aesthetic judgments are subjective. Art critics are more experienced at describing why they like or dislike a work of art. The judgment of taste (whether you like it or not) is a separate question from whether or not the work of art is successful, if it expresses what the artist intended, and so on.
Schapiro values the variety of tastes, the fresh points of view that each person brings to a work. In a sense this is like John Stuart Mill’s work in On Liberty; a wide range of opinions is necessary, and a free market of ideas should be respected. It is difficult to perceive the “relevant” qualities of a work of art, it is a skill that is developed with practice.
Hume also described the specific experiences that are necessary to develop one’s taste. Specific perceptual skills, and freeing oneself from prejudices and habits of thought, are necessary to develop taste. Hume concludes that taste is best understood as intersubjective, not objective or subjective.
Special in class work on taste and interior design professionals, to give you more material for papers and presentations. Given that Hume believes taste is related to experience (and his empiricist philosophy) use the materials given out in class to address examples of design professionals and learning taste through experience:
John Berger, Lessons of the Past
Kwame Anthony Appiah, The Postcolonial and the Aesthetic
Isenberg holds that the judgment of taste cannot appeal to reasons, that it is not within the bounds of rational, logical argumentation. Note that this inherently challenges what the art critic can do or say regarding taste.
Berger argues that works of art have the ability to depict broader issues, that they are not limited to particular times, histories, cultures. For example, Goya’s depiction of war can be used to understand the greater issues of war and loss of human potential in any historical period. The emotions involved are greater than specific human lives, for example the fear we feel in response to Goya’s work can be compared to the sublime of Kant and Burke.
Appiah discusses the postmodern, recent perspectives on art that avoid cross-cultural metanarratives, and that emphasize cross-cultural borrowing. Cultures “contaminate” one another, bringing up new commonalities and new possibilities for cultural comparison.
11/9 W Second Paper Drafts Due (for anyone choosing the Paper option instead of Presentations)
REMEMBER, you must use the readings and give notes and citations from our textbook in any Paper or Presentation.
Ideally, you should use two readings and discuss their differences, create a debate between two different theories.
First Presentation today by … ___________________
Outsider Artists, Folk Artists http://teach.valdosta.edu/chjames/pennvilleoutsiderartist.doc
Second Presentation day … Meagan Ellis
Third Presentation day … Dylan Hodge
Fourth Presentation day … Oscar Garza
11/23 W No class, T-Day
Fifth Presentation day … Justin Celeste and Moriah Walker
Justin Celeste and Moriah Walker
Sixth Presentation day … Darien Trent and Pamela Johnson
Darien Trent and Pamela Johnson
12/5 M Seventh Presentation day ... Chantting Stephenson
Last chance for questions before turning in final papers, if you are doing a paper instead of a presentation
FINAL VERSIONS OF YOUR PAPERS, PRESENTATION POWERPOINT, HANDOUTS, ETC. DUE IN TO ME THROUGH BLAZEVIEW AT THE FINAL EXAM SCHEDULED TIME: Wednesday, December 7 at 12:30pm.
If you are not sure about how the final exam times are assigned for your other courses, use this link, and check the Final Exam Schedule on page 3 of the document linked here:
Online Course Evaluations
Student evaluations are extremely important in helping faculty members plan and revise their courses. Students will need to access evaluation forms via BANNER and complete them in a period during the last few weeks of class. Please take the time to complete this important evaluation (or opt out of providing an evaluation) during the designated period. If you do not do so, you will not be able to access the grade for this class, scheduled to be posted on the Monday after the final examination days. They will be in Banner under Answer a Survey.
At the end of the term, all students will be expected to complete an online
Student Opinion of Instruction survey (SOI) that will be available on Banner
(where you registered for classes). Students will receive an email notification
through their VSU (valdosta.edu) email address when the SOI is available
(generally at least one week before the end of term.) SOI responses are
anonymous to instructors/administrators. Instructors will be able to view only a
summary of all responses two weeks after they have submitted final grades. While
instructors will not be able to view individual responses or access any of the
responses until after final grade submission, they will be able to see which
students have or have not completed their SOIs, and student compliance may be
considered in the determination of the final course grade. Some professors give
extra credit for completing the SOI and some do not, please do not pressure any
faculty member about giving extra credit - it's an individual instructor choice. These compliance and non-compliance
reports will not be available once instructors are able to access the survey and
a timetable for this term is available at
At the end of the term, all students will be expected to complete an online Student Opinion of Instruction survey (SOI) that will be available on Banner (where you registered for classes). Students will receive an email notification through their VSU (valdosta.edu) email address when the SOI is available (generally at least one week before the end of term.) SOI responses are anonymous to instructors/administrators. Instructors will be able to view only a summary of all responses two weeks after they have submitted final grades. While instructors will not be able to view individual responses or access any of the responses until after final grade submission, they will be able to see which students have or have not completed their SOIs, and student compliance may be considered in the determination of the final course grade. Some professors give extra credit for completing the SOI and some do not, please do not pressure any faculty member about giving extra credit - it's an individual instructor choice. These compliance and non-compliance reports will not be available once instructors are able to access the survey and a timetable for this term is available at http://www.valdosta.edu/academic/OnlineSOIPilotProject.shtml
Tips for doing well in Philosophy classes, adapted from a handout by Robert Scott
1. Read text with a pencil, underline the important ideas and key concepts. Write down technical ideas, key terms, key distinctions between two terms, definitions, diagrams, etc. to help you remember them.
2. Write questions or reactions you have to the text in the margin of the book. Ask about these questions in class, and keep them in mind, since they may provide good points to make about that author in papers you will write for class.
3. Read ahead to see the ultimate objectives of the chapter and of the individual readings. Keep in mind the overall picture of the chapters given in the introductory sections to each chapter in the book.
4. Work with the new terminology frequently, and try to apply it to situations outside of class. I would recommend flash cards to help you memorize the meanings of new terms quickly.
5. For longer readings, be sure to review the reading as a whole after you have read it section-by-section. What was the main question the author wanted to address? What were the answers? What concepts were used to make the points?
6. When confronted with a difficult reading or question, break it down into parts, and into individual ideas. This will at least help to clarify the question, even if it might not give the answer. And for philosophy, clarifying the question is really half the battle!
7. Ponder an unsolved problem and return to it every so often to see if it will give. Inspiration may happen at an unexpected time, and the subconscious mind does work on problems even when we aren't consciously aware of it.
8. Begin work on all the class tasks early, and spread out your work over time so as to maximize your chances for comprehending the readings accurately, memorizing the information, and grappling with the questions for papers.
9. If you do need to meet with an instructor outside of class, be sure to have your questions for the instructor planned out ahead of time, to make the meeting as productive as possible.
10. Always think about the philosophical issues for yourself, rather than waiting to be told what to think or believe.
11. Study for all exams on a daily basis, for at least a week before the exam date. You will need to know who said what, from memory.
12. Try to anticipate the questions that will be asked on an examination beforehand. Questions may come from the readings or from lectures and class discussions, but in either case, certain terms and concepts will be emphasized more than others.
13. Listen carefully to different points of view, and actively respond (when you read, when you are in class, and when you write your philosophy papers)!
14. Philosophy involves skills, like learning to appreciate a good debate, learning to imagine the world differently than we assume it to be, and appreciating the world with a sense of wonder.