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Rasa 101 and Rasa Fest

The University of British Columbia is hosting three days of workshops and presentations on Rasa theory from May 19-22, 2024.

Art and Emotion

Art without emotion is hard to imagine. Sadness and joy, disgust and humour: ingredients like these go into many successful works of art. For this reason, contemporary aesthetics boasts a copious literature on the expression of emotion by artworks and the emotional responses that artworks merit. What is it to express an emotion? What, in general, is an emotion? What role do emotions play in cognition? And in action? In aesthetic value? How is it both possible and rational to seek out experiences of negative emotions, such as sadness? What are the mechanisms of emotional expression and arousal in various art genres?

Each of these questions can be asked in a theoretical mood or an empirical one, and each is made more tractable as we answer the others. This two-part event introduces contemporary aesthetics to a rich historical tradition from South Asia. Rasa theorists address all of these questions, often giving them provocative answers.

The Events

Rasa 101 is a two-day crash course on rasa theory for anyone interested in getting up to speed on the topic, either with an eye to teaching it or to using it in their research.

Rasa Fest features presentations by five speakers over two days, with generous time allocated to discussion in formal sessions and during social breaks. It aims to create a community of scholars working on rasa from the perspective of contemporary aesthetics, emotion theory, philosophy of mind, or epistemology.

The organisers expect to include a workshop-demonstration and public performance by Nepathya, a Kutiyattam troupe from Kerala. Kutiyattam is a living heir to the ancient Sanskrit theatrical forms that shaped and were shaped by rasa theory.

A shared goal of both events is to boost efforts to diversify philosophy by modelling how we can equip ourselves with more than a superficial knowledge of problems that are shared across traditions, where answers given in some traditions can benefit other traditions.

Travel funding is available to those who wish to attend, thanks to generous grants from the American Philosophical Association, the American Society for Aesthetics, and the Canadian Journal of Philosophy, matched by the UBC Killam Professorship. The deadline to apply for funding is February 14. 

Registration is free and will be open on March 1. 

For more information, including a list of speakers and information about travel funding, please visit https://rasa.arts.ubc.ca.