Aesthetics and Subjectivity

The Humanities and Arts Research Centre at Royal Holloway University of London


Event Date: Wednesday 21st October 2009, 2pm-5pm
Arts Building Lecture Theatre 3 (ABLT3),
Royal Holloway University of London (RHUL)

Aesthetics and Subjectivity


‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder’, they say. But recent critics writing on the aesthetic argue such sentiments reduce artistic experience to relativism and commodification. Rather than merely absorbing beauty into subjectivity, such critics contend that art – as art – is deeply and dynamically dialectical; it creates a productively provocative tension with the person(s) who hear, watch or read it. Viewed thus, the aesthetic potentially constellates all kinds of ostensibly segregated issues. In examining the dichotomy between subject and object, it also examines the philosophical concepts (such as ‘truth’ or ‘reason’) which derive from this relationship, and, by extension, the social or intersubjective communities which are founded on or constituted through these concepts. Ultimately, then, the aesthetic may articulate or represent radical or utopian possibilities for renegotiating subjects, concepts and communities alike. This event, co-ordinated by the Humanities and Arts Research Council, the Schools of Graduate Studies and Arts, and the departments of Classics, English, French and German at Royal Holloway University of London, brings together some of the most exciting writers working today on this cluster of topics. We are delighted to welcome from Arcadia University Professor Hugh Grady, author most recently of Shakespeare and Impure Aesthetics (CUP 2009) and Professor Andrew Bowie, recognised expert in the field and author of Aesthetics and Subjectivity: from Kant to Nietzsche (2nd ed. Manchester University Press 2003). Joining them from the Royal Holloway Classics Department will be Professors Ahuvia Kahane and Richard Alston. This interdisciplinary conversation aims to elicit a variety of theoretical, and historical perspectives, thus stimulating and provoking discussion from students and staff from across the humanities.

speaker_RichardAlstonProfessor Richard Alston, Department of Classics, RHUL


speaker_andrew_bowie2Professor Andrew Bowie, Department of German, RHUL


speaker_HughGradyProfessor Hugh Grady, Department of English, Arcadia University, Philadelphia


speaker_AhuviaKahaneProfessor Ahuvia Kahane, Department of Classics, RHUL



Questions / Discussion:

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For further details about this event, please contact: W.J.McKenzie@rhul.ac.uk


Funded and Supported by: The Humanities and Arts Research Centre • The School of Arts • The Faculty of Modern Languages • The Departments of Classics • English • and French of Royal Holloway University of London


Picture credit: Étienne Maurice Falconet, Pygmalion et Galatée (Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg), taken by Yair Haklai, 2007

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