The heritage Etienne Souriau (1892-1979) left to aesthetics is significant both from an intellectual and an institutional standpoint. Along with Charles Lalo and Raymond Bayer, Souriau founded la Revue d’esthétique in 1948, chaired the Société Française d’esthétique, headed the International Board for Aesthetics studies and lastly created the Institute for Aesthetics and Art History affiliated to the Sorbonne and later to Université Paris I (which is by now extented by the ACTE Paris I-CNRS Institute). Additionally, he pursued the Vocabulaire d’esthétique, originally initiated by Lalo and Victor Basch and completed by his daughter Anne Souriau after his death. His personal work is nevertheless substantial and ramifies into three key pillars.
The first one is the aesthetic issue itself, involving on the one hand the idea of art theory as an implementing action (cf. L’Instauration philosophique, 1939), an idea which, aside from its philosophical reach, forms part of poetics and artwork creation theory – see Konrad Fiedler, Paul Valéry, René Passeron ; on the other hand, a major input to the philosophical posterity of paragone, or, so to speak, the postmodern theory of intermediality – as confirmed by one of his most famous works, La Correspondance des arts (1969).
Then comes the second point, the ontological one: there we find Souriau’s “modes of being” theory (Les Différents modes d’existence, 1943) that Isabelle Stengers and Bruno Latour have been putting back on the agenda (cf. Le Sphinx de l’œuvre, PUF, 2009). Eventually, the third issue touches on film studies, gathering Souriau’s research in film theory that led to L’Univers filmique (1953) where he draws up a nomenclature of new terms (intended to facilitate the studies) that would have an important impact on the academic fields of semiology and cinematic theory (stimulated by Christian Metz) and later narratology (with Gérard Genette).
The conference itself shall revolve around these three poles. Papers may focus on Souriau’s work and the future(s) of its legacy, as well as on contemporary areas this production has contributed to unlock.
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