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Aesthetics Unbound

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Organizer: John Brenkman

Co-Organizer: Sorin Radu Cucu

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The question of the scope of aesthetic categories and of the category of the aesthetic reaches from Kant to today. For Kant, the beautiful is manifest in art and nature, the sublime in nature and moral experience. For Adorno, the domains of the aesthetic are art, nature, and eroticism. For Bachelard, dreaming is an aesthetic and artistic experience. Benjamin’s “aestheticization of politics” (fascism) and “politicization of aesthetics” (Brecht) and Rancière’s “distribution of the sensible” make the aesthetic a political category. A renewed interest in the aesthetic has been recharging the links between literary, cultural, and media studies.Whereas the ubiquity of images, sound, and narratives in everyday life in consumer society explode the beautiful/sublime polarity, design aesthetics shapes environments and lifeworlds. Digital and mass media and the forms of aesthetic experience they afford give rise to distinct modes of examining collective perception.A call for papers that explore from various theoretical and critical angles the question: How expansive, how delimited, how variable, how coherent should the concept of the aesthetic be?

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