Institute of Philosophy London Aesthetics Forum: 2017-8 Report

During 2017-8 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. 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 673 Facebook followers and 1804 followers on Twitter, and the website received many thousands of hits in the past year. We continue to post podcasts of many 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 2017-8 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 strong program of offerings, including 10 talks.
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 2017-8 have included a number of speakers from abroad that we were fortunate to catch while they were in Europe. Our speakers were as follows:

  • Paul Guyer (Brown), “Mendelssohn, Kant, and the Aims of Art”
  • Keith Lehrer (Arizona/ Miami), “Art, Exemplars, Knowledge”
  • Errol Lord (UPenn), “Non-Foundational Direct Access: What It Is and Why It Matters for the Epistemology of Aesthetics”
  • Lisa Jones (St. Andrews), “‘This is Awesome!’ But is it Art? The Aesthetics of Pro-wrestling”
  • John Kulvicki (Dartmouth), “Metaphor in Pictures”
  • Vid Simoniti (Cambridge), “What Can Art Say about Politics?”
  • Michael Newall (Kent), “Painting With Impossible Colours”
  • Keren Gorodeisky (Auburn), “The Authority of Pleasure: a Neglected Alternative in Aesthetics”
  • Anna Cristina Ribeiro (Texas Tech), “(When) Is Poetry Fiction?”
  • Amy Kind (Claremont McKenna), “Fiction and Imagining Across Different Experiential Perspectives”

SWIP: LAF aims for gender diversity in our talks. Four of our 10 speakers this year have been women. In the coming year, we have been aiming for similar gender parity, and our invitations reflect that.

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

Andrew Huddleston

On behalf of the LAF’s 2017-8 organising group: Andrew Huddleston (Birkbeck), Stacie Friend (Birkbeck), Alex Grzankowski (Birkbeck); Jack Davis (PhD Student, UCL); Sarah Kiernan (PhD Student, Birkbeck); Pablo Olvera Mateos (PhD Student, Birkbeck)