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Institute of Philosophy London Aesthetics Forum: 2019-20 Report

During 2019-20 the Institute of Philosophy London Aesthetics Forum (LAF) has continued to hold its regular series of seminars on topics in aesthetics and the philosophy of art, albeit with a disruption in our schedule from March due to COVID-19.

The LAF aims to provide a lively environment for those already working in aesthetics and philosophy of art, and to foster new interest. LAF events are open to all, both inside and outside the University of London. Audiences tend to be multi-disciplinary, and talks are followed by extended discussion where the philosophical topics raised by the talks are explored in depth from a variety of perspectives. As attendance at the sessions fluctuates depending on the time of year, with generally higher attendance during university term-time, we have been pleased to see that this format works well with different audience numbers, allowing small groups (e.g. of 8-10 people) to pursue detailed trains of discussion with the speaker, whilst also allowing enough time for everybody to ask substantial questions in a larger group (e.g. of 20-25).

The LAF now has 822 Facebook followers and 1,947 followers on Twitter, and the website received many thousands of hits in the past year. We continue to post podcasts of some of our talks on iTunes. Our podcasts enable more people to engage with the Forum, including listeners from outside the UK, and have a very substantial number of monthly downloads.

One of the LAF’s aims is to benefit students who are working in aesthetics or related areas, providing opportunities for graduate researchers to engage with cutting edge work and meet other academics working in the area. Graduate students in the University of London also play a central role in organising the Forum’s activities, and in 2019-20 year this has included help on various organizational tasks, as well as participating actively in discussions.

Thanks to the funding from the BSA, we’ve been able to put on a good program of offerings, including 7 talks. More were of course planned, but we’ve given rain-checks to those speakers, and are considering some online offerings for the coming academic year.

We have aimed for a diverse programme, including talks by early career philosophers as well as by those more established in the field. Talks in 2019-20 included speakers from the U.K., the U.S., Canada, and continental Europe. Our speakers were as follows:

Rob Hopkins (NYU), “Artistic Style as the Expression of Artistic Ideals” [paper co-authored with Nick Riggle]

Margot Strohminger (Oxford), “Supposition, Imagination and Offline Belief”

Sonia Sedivy (Toronto), “The Puzzle of Make-Believe about Pictures: Can One Imagine a Perception to be Different?”

Robbie Kubala (UC Santa Cruz), “Practice-Based Accounts of Aesthetic Normativity”

Adriana Clavel-Vasquez (Oxford), “The Role of Imagination in the Aesthetic Appreciation of Racialized Bodies”

Sasha Newton (UC Riverside/ Leipzig), “The Form of Aesthetic Judgment in Kant”

James Shelley (Auburn), “What makes aesthetic value value?”

SWIP: LAF aims for gender diversity in our talks. Four of our 7 speakers this year have been women.

The LAF would like to thank the British Society of Aesthetics for their continued support.

—Andrew Huddleston

On behalf of the LAF’s 2019-20 organising group: Andrew Huddleston (Birkbeck), Stacie Friend (Birkbeck), Alex Grzankowski (Birkbeck); Sarah Kiernan (PhD Student, Birkbeck); Taylor Enoch (PhD Student, UCL)