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Clive Palmer and David Torevell (Eds.) (2008) The turn to aesthetics: An interdisciplinary exchange of ideas in applied and philosophical aesthetics



Reporting on an international conference held at Liverpool Hope University 5th – 8th June 2007. This was a wide-ranging inter-disciplinary conference which encouraged submissions from three general strands of study including; those subjects which have enjoyed a substantial history of involvement in the field such as Theology and Philosophy, those relatively new to the study such as Sports Studies and Management, and those which focus upon such applied dimensions as the Arts and Education. The overall aim of the conference was to learn from interdisciplinary debate and to encourage an exchange of ideas on research of the highest quality.
Book Title:
The turn to aesthetics: An interdisciplinary exchange of ideas in
applied and philosophical aesthetics
Edited by:
Clive Palmer and David Torevell
Peter Lamarque, Heather Höpfl, Keith Owens, Steve Brie, Lynn Hilditch, Mark Wynn,
Donna Lazenby, David Clayton, Tim Prentki, Margaret-Catherine Perivoliotis-
Chryssovergis, Leila Hojjati, Patrick Carr, Graham McFee, Doug Sandle, Alexandra
Mouriki, Mark Titmarsh, Nikolaos Gkogkas, Avril Loveless, Cordula Hansen, Peter
Jordan, John Lindley, Neil Campbell, Joel Rookwood, Matthew Thombs, Clive Palmer,
Val Sellers, Stephan Wassong, Karl Lennartz, Thomas Zawadzki
Author(s) and
Clive Palmer and David Torevell (Editors)
Cover-Prelims-Contents-Acknowledgements-Notes on Contributors
Appendix - Conference schedule: speakers and abstracts (June 2007)
Liverpool Hope University Press,
Merseyside, UK.
September, 2008
Reporting on an international conference held at Liverpool Hope University 5th 8th June 2007. This was a wide-
ranging inter-disciplinary conference which encouraged submissions from three general strands of study including;
those subjects which have enjoyed a substantial history of involvement in the field such as Theology and Philosophy,
those relatively new to the study such as Sports Studies and Management, and those which focus upon such applied
dimensions as the Arts and Education. The overall aim of the conference was to learn from interdisciplinary debate
and to encourage an exchange of ideas on research of the highest quality.
To reference this chapter:
Palmer, C. and Torevell, D. (Eds.) (2008) The turn to aesthetics: An interdisciplinary exchange of ideas in applied and
philosophical aesthetics. Liverpool Hope University Press, UK. ISBN: 978-0-9515874-3-6
Other research web host:
The Turn to Aesthetics
An Interdisciplinary Exchange of Ideas in
Applied and Philosophical Aesthetics
Edited by Clive Palmer and David Torevell
The Turn to Aesthetics
Reporting on an international conference held at Liverpool Hope University
5th–8th June 2007. This was a wide-ranging inter-disciplinary conference which
encouraged submissions from three general strands of study including; those
subjects which have enjoyed a substantial history of involvement in the field such
as Theology and Philosophy, those relatively new to the study such as Sports
Studies and Management, and those which focus upon such applied
dimensions as the Arts and Education. The overall aim of the conference was
to learn from interdisciplinary debate and to encourage an exchange of ideas on
research of the highest quality.
The Turn to Aesthetics Edited by Clive Palmer and David Torevell
Published by
Liverpool Hope University Press
ISBN 978-0-9515847-3-6
3269-Cover1.qxd 5/8/08 13:27 Page 1
The Turn to Aesthetics
The Turn to Aesthetics
An Interdisciplinary Exchange of Ideas
in Applied and Philosophical Aesthetics
Front Cover:
Detail of “LT”, 2002, tinted resin, variable dimensions by Mark Titmarsh.
Back Cover:
“NKL”, 2002, acrylic and resin on canvas, 90 x 110cms by Mark Titmarsh.
First published in the United Kingdom in 2008 by
Liverpool Hope University Press
Copyright © Clive Palmer and David Torevell
and the authors of the papers 2008
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced
or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical
including photocopying, recording or any information storage or retrieval
system, without prior permission in writing from the publishers.
ISBN 978–0–9515847–3–6
Printed and bound in Great Britain
Notes on Contributors
Graham McFee
Clive Palmer
1 Aesthetics and the practices of art
Peter Lamarque
2 Aesthetics and Management
Heather Höpfl
3 Turning toward the aesthetic, turning away from responsibility
Keith Owens
4 The lightning flash of hope - aesthetics and absurdity in the racetrack
poetry of Charles Bukowski.
Steve Brie
5 Aesthetics of war: the artistic representation of war in Lee Miller’s
WWII photographs.
Lynn Hilditch
6 In search of a conversation between aesthetics and theology: an
approach to a poem by Edmund Cusick
Mark Wynn
7 Shaping the Darkness: Virginia Woolf and the Apophatic Moment
Donna Lazenby
8 How the form of Byzantine icons relates to the Christian worldview
David Clayton
9 The aesthetics of participation
Tim Prentki
10 Design for the ancient drama
Margaret-Catherine Perivoliotis-Chryssovergis
11 Acts of aesthetic confession in Saul Bellow’s Ravelstein
Leila Hojjati
12 Spiritual exercises and the aesthetic refinement of the moral self
Patrick Carr
13 Artistic value: Its scope and limits (and a little something about
Graham McFee
14 Art, sport and aesthetics.
Doug Sandle
15 The re-orientation of aesthetics and its significance for aesthetic
Alexandra Mouriki
16 Thinking Heidegger’s post aesthetics through the expanded field of
Mark Titmarsh
17 Aesthetics and the environment - repatriating humanity
Nikolaos Gkogkas
18 Moving from the margins creating space with digital technology:
wonder, theory and action
Avril Loveless
19 The turn to aesthetics in archaeological theory - experiencing
materiality through art and experiment
Cordula Hansen
20 Taking the aesthetic temperature: reflections on the role of the arts in
a healing context
Peter Jordan
Live Performances
21 Poems: Poetry Reading
John Lindley
22 Acoustic Guitar Performance
Neil Campbell
Extended Poster Discussions
23 A socio-aesthetic account of construction and destruction in world
Joel Rookwood and Clive Palmer
24 Drawing upon the aesthetic heritage of Men’s Artistic Gymnastics to
create a personalised technique – a case study of the performance
qualities of Aleksei Nemov (Russia)
Clive Palmer and Val Sellers
25 Olympic art contests 1912-1948, their invention and demise
Stephan Wassong, Karl Lennartz and Thomas Zawadzki
26 Structure and surface - contextualising aesthetic form in the sport
psychology process
Matthew Thombs and Clive Palmer
Closing comments – a delegate’s perspective
27 Sheer aesthetics - a closing comment on the Turn to Aesthetics
Mark Titmarsh
Conference Abstracts
Overview of conference programme and full listing of abstracts.
Six keynote addresses and fourteen parallel sessions.
David and I would like to thank and acknowledge the invaluable assistance given
from all those who supported our endeavour to stage The Turn to Aesthetics
conference and to make it such a success. Throughout this journey, their generosity to
share their knowledge and show interest in us, and “our idea”, has been a sobering
example of friendship and collegiality. Along the way we have been fortunate to
benefit from their help at critical phases during preparation, during the conference
itself and with this post-event publication. To these we owe a debt of gratitude for
their tireless efforts and continued interest; we thank you most sincerely.
In particular we would like to acknowledge Richard Hooper, Val Sellers, Tom
Foreman, Victor Merriman and Stephan Wassong for their support and enthusiasm
during the early stages of this project. Thanks also to the staff at Hope University for
their attentiveness to host the event and to ensure all our visitors were made
comfortable during their stay in Liverpool. Also, a debt of thanks to those who
chaired papers during the conference enabling the event to run smoothly: Patrice
Haynes, Jenny Daggers, John Brinkman, Brendan Schmack, Simon Kawycz, and
Matt Thombs. For the displays and live performances thanks are due to Karl
Lennartz, President of IOSH (International Society of Olympic Historians) for
loaning the images of Olympic Art Competitions included in our poster display, and
to Neil Campbell (acoustic guitarist) and John Lindley (poet) for their “polished”
performances during the evening breaks of the conference. I am also very grateful
Graham McFee for being on hand to give occasional, but timely advice and to Mark
Titmarsh for allowing us to feature his artworks on the cover design.
Finally, we wish to thank all the delegates for contributing to the conference so
openly and making it such a stimulating experience for all those present. The creative
mood to exchange ideas and take an active interest in other scholars’ applications of
aesthetics is reflected in this book and I thank the authors wholeheartedly for their
wisdom shared further in these pages, not least for their tolerance of my editorial
Lastly, thanks goes to my wife, Dorinda, for supporting me during this episode of
academic life by tolerating the more than average number of distractions which have
spanned long before and long after that memorable week in June 2007.
Clive Palmer
Notes on Contributors
Clive Palmer is a Senior Lecturer in Sports Pedagogy and Physical Education at
Liverpool Hope University. His principal research interest is the aesthetic evaluation
of Men’s Artistic Gymnastics. Clive is also the editor of the Journal of Qualitative
Research in Sports Studies and is currently developing online resources for teaching
sports pedagogy and gymnastics to undergraduates and teachers in schools.
David Torevell is Associate Professor in the Department of Theology and
Religious Studies at Liverpool Hope University. He is the author of two books on
Christian liturgy Losing the Sacred: Ritual, Modernity and Liturgical Reform (T&T
Clark, 2000) and Liturgy and the Beauty of the Unknown. Another Place (Ashgate,
2007) and is the co-author of Inspiring Faith in Schools: Studies in Religious
Education (Ashgate, 2007). His research interests include theological aesthetics,
contemplative spirituality, Christian ritual and performance and Christian Education.
Peter Lamarque is Professor of Philosophy at the University of York. From
1995 to 2008 he was Editor of the British Journal of Aesthetics. He is the author of
Fictional Points of View (Cornell UP, 1996) and The Philosophy of Literature
(Blackwell, 2008), and co-author, with Stein Haugom Olsen, of Truth, Fiction, and
Literature: A Philosophical Perspective (Clarendon Press, 1994). He also edited
Philosophy and Fiction: Essays in Literary Aesthetics (Aberdeen UP, 1983); Concise
Encyclopedia of Philosophy of Language (Elsevier Press, 1997) and an anthology
(with S.H. Olsen) Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art: The Analytic Tradition
(Blackwell, 2003).
Heather Höpfl is Professor of Management at the University of Essex and
Visiting Professor at UvH, Utrecht and the University of South Australia. She has
worked in a number of different jobs and fields including operations research with a
large engineering company, as a schoolteacher, as a tour manager for a touring theatre
company and a researcher working on a research project with ICL and Logica. In the
1990s she worked with British Airways Safety Services on developing a safety
culture. She is co-editor of Culture and Organization and publishes widely. Recent
publications have been on the Bhopal disaster with Sumohon Matilal and on
Aesthetics and Management. In November 2007 she was invited to speak at the Hong
Kong Arts Centre and the Hong Kong Institute for Design on the relationship between
management and aesthetics. She is committed to an ethical and compassionate
approach to management. She is married to Dr Harro Höpfl who is a political theorist
and has two sons George and Max.
Keith Owens is an Assistant Professor of Communication Design at the
University of North Texas College of Visual Arts & Design, Denton, TX. Articles by
him addressing the need for increased design responsibility have appeared in the
International Journal of the Humanities, Design Philosophy Papers, Design
Philosophy Politics and Visual Communications Quarterly. Mr. Owens has also
taught at Texas Tech University and worked as a design firm owner, design director
and designer in Dallas, San Francisco and Houston.
Steve Brie is a Senior Lecturer specialising in English Literature at Liverpool
Hope University. Prior to this he worked for BBC TV for five years as a TV Director.
He has a Ph.D. in popular music and TV drama. He has publications on Television
Drama, Film and English Literature.
Lynn Hilditch is a photographer and researcher in art history and photography
and has lectured in Film and American Studies at Liverpool Hope University. Her
research interests include the socio-historical representation of gender in twentieth
century popular culture, and her current research focuses on the World War Two
photographs of the American Surrealist and war correspondent Lee Miller.
Mark Wynn is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy of Religion in the Department of
Theology at the University of Exeter. His publications include Emotional Experience
and Religious Understanding: Integrating Perception, Conception and Feeling
(Cambridge University Press, 2005), and God and Goodness: A Natural Theological
Perspective (Routledge, 1999). The paper in this volume reflects his interest in
embodied religion, and the connection between religious belief and ethical and
aesthetic commitments.
Donna Lazenby is a final year PhD candidate at the Faculty of Divinity,
University of Cambridge. Her research interests embrace issues in mystical theology
and the interdisciplinary study of theology, religion and literature. Her doctoral thesis
explores points of contact between the literary aesthetics of Virginia Woolf and the
mystical aesthetics of traditional Christian mysticism, engaging particularly with the
thought and writing of Plotinus, Pseudo-Dionysius, Ruusbroec and Anselm.
David Clayton is a working artist and writer trained in the Byzantine
iconographic tradition and in Florence, Italy as a portrait painter. He teaches art
theory at the Maryvale Institute in Birmingham. In 2008 he takes up position as Head
of Art and Artist-in-Residence at Thomas More College of Liberal Arts, Merrimack,
New Hampshire, USA. Artistic commissions include large-scale works for the
Brompton Oratory in London and Pluscarden Abbey Benedictine monastery in Elgin,
Morayshire. He has illustrated two books published in 2007 for children with work in
the Byzantine style: a book on the Mass published by Gracewing and 'Meet the
Angels' published by ResSource, Oxford. He has written articles for the Catholic
Herald and for the journal of faith and culture.
Tim Prentki is Professor of Theatre for Development at the University of
Winchester where he runs the MA in Theatre and Media for Development. He is on
the editorial board of Research in Drama Education and is the co-author of Popular
Theatre in Political Culture. He is co-editor of the forthcoming Routledge Reader in
Applied Theatre and has undertaken training workshops in Theatre for Development
in Europe, Asia and Africa.
Margaret-Catherine Perivoliotis-Chryssovergis is Textile Artist, Doctor of
Textile Design and Associate Professor with tenure of Textile Design and History of
Furniture/Decoration in the Department of Interior Architecture and Design,
Technological Educational Institute of Athens, Greece. Her research interests cover
aspects of Hellenic Textiles and Costumes, Cultural Heritage and Design Pedagogies.
Her publications include The History of Furniture, and two books on Textile Art.
Leila Hojjati is a Ph.D. student at Liverpool Hope University. Her (submitted)
dissertation is on “Acts of Narrative Confession in the Fiction of Saul Bellow”. She
has published articles on Joseph Conrad, Sadegh Hedayat, and Saul Bellow, both in
Persian and English. Her primary research interest is in contemporary fiction and
literary theory. She is currently working on a funded project, exploring the concept of
a “research-informed, teaching-led” style of liberal education within the context of
Liverpool Hope University.
Patrick Carr is a final year Ph.D. candidate at the Department of Religious
Studies, Lancaster University. His research interests are in the fields of moral
philosophy and psychology, spirituality, and social theory. His thesis is entitled
‘Compassion through Askesis: Philosophical Perspectives on Spiritual Exercises and
the Cultivation of Compassion’, and explores the philosophical significance of praxis
in moral formation, with reference to Christian meditation.
Graham McFee is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Brighton; and
divides his time between there and the Philosdophy Department of California State
University Fullerton. He was Vice President of the British Society of Aesthetics. His
major interests are in the philosophy of Wittgenstein, the philosophy of sport, and, of
course, philosophical aesthetics. His principal publications include: Understanding
Dance (Routledge, 1992); Free Will (Acumen, 2000); Sport, Rules and Values
(Routledge, 2004).
Doug Sandle, a Chartered Psychologist, is Reader in Visual Studies at the Leeds
School of Contemporary Art and Graphic Design, Leeds Metropolitan University. His
published research and teaching interests have been in the areas of the psychology of
art and design, arts therapy, public art, and visual culture. He is the founding Chair of
Leeds Rugby Arts Steering Group. He has been a published poet, short story writer
and broadcast playwright, and is Manx, born and brought up on the Isle of Man.
Alexandra Mouriki is Assistant Professor of Aesthetics and Aesthetic Education
at the University of Patras (Greece). She teaches Aesthetics, Art Pedagogies and
History of Art. Her research focuses upon modern and contemporary philosophy of
art, aesthetics and philosophy of aesthetic education. Her publications include
Transformations of Aesthetics (Athens, 2003, ISBN 960-211-693-5) as well as several
articles on art theory, aesthetics and aesthetic education. She has also translated
essays of Merleau-Ponty and Paul Ricœur.
Mark Titmarsh is a practicing visual artist as well as Lecturer in Visual
Communication at the University of Technology, Sydney, Australia. His visual arts
practice, described as expanded painting, indicates painting that has evolved into
installations, videos and texts. He has published widely in contemporary art, including
texts in Baudrillard Live, Routledge and Kegan Paul, London, 1993 Syn City, dLux
Media Arts, Sydney, October 2006 and occasional articles in Art Monthly Australia.
Nikolaos Gkogkas has been teaching philosophy in the UK since 2004. His
research has focused on ancient Greek philosophy, aesthetics, and metaphysics. His
book on Nelson Goodman and kalological aesthetics will be appearing in 2008
(Palgrave Macmillan).
Avril Loveless is a teacher and researcher at the University of Brighton, UK. She
has been involved with the ICT in the teacher education community for many years.
Her research interests include the contribution of digital technologies to creativity and
teacher professional knowledge, and she has published a range of books and articles.
Cordula Hansen is a practising artist and a lecturer in the History and Theory of
Art at Waterford Institute of Technology. Currently completing a Ph.D. in Art on the
relationship between art practice and new approaches in archaeological theory. Her
research interests include the role of practical knowledge in academic environments
and art practice as a research medium. She is an organising member of the Umha Aois
Experimental Bronze Casting Group.
Peter Jordan is a Senior Lecturer in the History and Theory of Art at Waterford
Institute of Technology. A committed art educationalist, he was recently awarded a
Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy (UK). Dr. Jordan was a Founder
Member of the Arts and Research Group of the European League of Institutes of the
Arts (ELIA), and is an Executive Member of Waterford Healing Arts Trust.
Joel Rookwood is a Sports Development lecturer at Liverpool Hope University.
Having studied Football Science at undergraduate level, followed by Masters Degrees
in Notation Analysis and then Sport Sociology, he is currently at the concluding phase
of a Ph.D. in Football Hooliganism. Joel has travelled to over one hundred countries,
thirty of which have included supporting and managing practical and research-based
programmes within a developmental and/or charitable capacity.
Val Sellers retired from the post of Senior Lecturer in Physical Education (in
2000) at John Moores University where he specialized in the teaching of dance,
gymnastics, aesthetics and philosophy, with the main emphasis on Initial Teacher
Training. He now contributes regularly to a PE website, Sportplan, and has recently been instrumental in setting up In-Service
courses in gymnastics for teachers.
Stephan Wassong is an Associate Professor at Liverpool Hope University. He
joined the Department of Sport Studies in January 2007, having worked previously at
the German Sport University Cologne where he received his Ph.D. thesis and
habilitation. His major fields of research relate to Pierre de Coubertin, the founding
process of the modern Olympic Movement, Olympic Education and several non-
Olympic topics including American sport culture, outdoor sports and the history of
adventure education. Stephan is the editor of the Journal of Olympic History.
Karl Lennartz Dr. phil. P.D., *1940, is sports historian emeritus at the German
Sports University Cologne. 1980-2005 he was Director of the Carl and Lieselott
Diehm Archive, Olympic Research Archive of the Sports University Cologne and is
currently the President of the International Society of Olympic Historians. He has
more than 40 books and over 200 articles about the history of the Olympic Games and
the Olympic Movement, and is recipient of the Olympic Order.
Thomas Zawadzki finished his studies at the German Sports University,
Cologne and specialized in the field of Sports History. His research focuses on the
Olympic Games from Ancient times until modern re-foundations. Currently he deals
with the history of the Paralympic movement and the beginnings of sport for the
disabled. Since 2003 he has been an executive committee member of the European
Committee for Sports History (CESH).
Matt Thombs is a senior lecturer in Sport Psychology at Liverpool Hope
University. He has a Master’s degree in Applied Sport and Exercise Psychology and
is a BASES (British Association of Sport and Exercise Scientists) accredited Sport
Psychologist. Matt is developing a national reputation in his field having supported
many Governing Bodies of sport and individual performers at all levels of
competition including Olympic Games, World and European Championships,
International tests and Grand Prix’s.
John Lindley is a freelance poet and creative writing tutor. An experienced
performer, he has read at Ledbury Poetry Festival and at the Buxton and Edinburgh
Fringe Festivals. He runs poetry workshops for writers’ groups, festivals and in
prisons, schools, universities, youth clubs and day care centres, as well as for those
with learning difficulties. Widely published, his latest collection is Cheshire Rising.
He was appointed Cheshire Poet Laureate in 2004.
Neil Campbell is a classical guitarist, multi-instrumentalist and composer. As a
solo guitarist he has produced three albums of original music, ‘Through the Looking
Glass’ (Mayfield 2003), ‘Night Sketches’ (2004) and ‘Fall’ (2006). During
postgraduate studies in musical composition at Liverpool Hope University, he began
to develop a body of generative music compositions. Much of this work has been
recorded, ‘Rotations’ (2002) and ‘Assembly’ (2005) and has received airplay on BBC
Radio 3's Late Junction. His group The Neil Campbell Collective are an
experimental/progressive rock band that have produced two albums of original music
‘3 O’Clock Sky’ (2005) and ‘Particle Theory’ (2008). For more information see
The Turn to
International Conference
June 5-8, 2007
Liverpool Hope University
Recent years have seen a growing interest in the study
of aesthetics. This wide-ranging inter-disciplinary conference
encourages submissions from three strands: those subjects which
have enjoyed a substantial history of involvement in the field
(eg.Theology & Religious Studies, Philosophy), those relatively
new to the study (eg. Sports Studies, Management), and those
which focus on applied dimensions (eg. The Arts, Education).
The overall aim of the conference is to learn from inter-disciplinary
debate and to encourage research of the highest quality.
Keynote Speakers
Professor Michael Balfour (Drama, Brisbane, Australia)
Professor Heather Höpfl (Management, Essex, UK)
Professor Peter Lamarque (Philosophy, York, UK)
Professor Graham McFee (Philosophy, Brighton, UK
& California State University, Fullerton, USA)
Dr. Mark Wynn (Theology, Exeter, UK)
For conference and early registration (by March 31st 2007)
discount details visit:
or contact Dr David Torevell: (Theology,
Religious Studies and Philosophy)
or Dr Clive Palmer: (Sports Studies).
Conference Abstracts
Conference programme order, six keynote addresses and fourteen
parallel sessions
Tuesday 5th June 2007
Opening Keynote Address (1) Peter Lamarque
Wednesday 6th June 2007
Keynote Address (2) Heather Hpfl
Paper 1,2 Keith Owens Steve Brie
Paper 3,4 Jan Betts Jan Jobling
Paper 5,6 Michael Newall Lynn Hilditch
Paper 7,8 C. Holtham and A. Owens Anthony Haughey
Keynote Address (3) Mark Wynn
Paper 9,10 Donna Lazenby Razieh Rezazadeh
Paper 11,12 David Clayton A. Owens and C. Holtham
Neil Campbell - Acoustic Guitar Performance
Thursday 7th June 2007
Keynote Address (4) Michael Balfour
Paper 13,14 Tim Prentki M.C.P. Chryssovergis
Paper 15,16 Leila Hojjati No speaker
Paper 17,18 Pauline Brookes Janet Evans
Paper 19,20 Stephen Bamber Patrick Carr
Keynote Address (5) Graham McFee
Paper 21,22 Doug Sandle Alexandra Mouriki
Paper 23,24 Mark Titmarsh Nik Gkogkas
The Turn to Aesthetics
Poetry Performance by John Lindley (
Friday 8th June 2007
Keynote Address (6) Avril Loveless
Paper 25,26 Cordula Hansen Peter Jordan
Paper 27,28 Dan Cavedon-Taylor Matthew Rowe
Plenary Session and Depart
Keynote Address (1)
Professor Peter Lamarque (York University, UK)
Title: Aesthetics and the practices of art
What exactly is going on in philosophical aesthetics at the moment? Is it still a live
branch of philosophy or just an irrelevant relic from the past? How does it relate to
the arts as currently practised? The lecture will give an upbeat assessment of
contemporary philosophical work in aesthetics, stressing its interdisciplinary nature
and how it intersects with other discourses about art: art criticism, debates about
conceptual art, the move away from theory in literary studies, links with music and
musicology, the idea of ‘value’ and the idea of ‘beauty’ in the arts. What is distinctive
about aesthetics in the past 10 years or so is how it has sought to accommodate and
engage with different art forms: form literature and film to music and dance to theatre
and painting. Look in any recent “Companion” or “Guide” to aesthetics and you will
certainly find sections on the major art forms. This is a change and a change for the
better, in the way philosophers do aesthetics.
Keynote Address (2)
Professor Heather Höpfl (Essex University, UK)
Title: The art of management: why has aesthetics become so popular as a form
of management theorising?
I will undertake a brief history of management interest in aesthetics and offer some
reasons why it has become so popular in the last ten to fifteen years. I would also like
to comment on early work relating aesthetics to management and to organisation
theorising and to consider a preoccupation with ugliness, lack of style, absence of
symmetry, and absence of concern for the working environment. I will comment on
the success of the Art of Management conference and other conferences which have
examined this theme over the past decade. Finally, the paper will offer some
examples of recent work in aesthetics and assess whether or not it is of relevance to
management practice.
Conference Abstracts
Paper 1
Keith Owens Assistant Professor (School of Visual Arts, The University of North
Texas, USA)
Title: Turning towards aesthetics, turning away from responsibility
Aesthetics concerns artists in part because they realize work created with this topic’s
grasp can trigger transformative viewer experiences. This reality, however, raises a
number of vital questions. Among them: can narrower concerns for aesthetic
properties and experiences negate more expansive concerns about artistic
responsibility? This paper presentation will argue that among certain artists and in
certain instances, the answer to this question is yes.
To support its position, it will examine graphic or communication designers: applied
artists whose members often privilege what they consider to be their work’s aesthetic
merits at the expense of its social impact. It will further argue that the practitioners in
this group who adopt this perspective often downplay ethical responsibilities clearly
attributable to the artifacts they produce. This amoral, neo-formalist stance is evident
in the many ways in which communication designers characterize themselves, market
their services and praise their work.
The presentation will conclude by suggesting that the insights derived from this
singular example are useful insofar as they can be generalized across a broader artistic
register and can add to the discourse engaged with the relationships between and
interplay among art, aesthetics and ethics.
Paper 2
Steve Brie (Liverpool Hope University, UK)
Title: The lightning flash of hope: the aesthetic of the absurd in the racetrack
poetry of Charles Bukowski
The four key themes in Charles Bukowski’s life and writings were the pointlessness
of work, relationships with women, the acquisition, consumption and after-effects of
drink, and the spectacle of the racetrack and the ongoing challenge of playing the
horses. While the first three of these themes have been relatively well documented,
Bukowski’s preoccupation with the aesthetics and philosophy of the racetrack has
attracted relatively little critical attention. This paper will focus on this neglected area,
specifically in relation to Bukowski’s racetrack poetry. The paper will argue that, for
Bukowski, the rituals associated with gambling and the racetrack provided an
aesthetic respite from the torment of existence and that the perfect form and ideal
beauty of the thoroughbred racehorse presented an aesthetic distraction from what he
saw as the absurdity and monotony of everyday life. The paper will draw attention to
the way in which, like Beckett, Bukowski’s philosophy grows naturally out of the
clash between an individual’s imagined sense of centrality within the world order, and
the meaninglessness of human existence which, he argues, constitutes reality.
The Turn to Aesthetics
Paper 3
Ms Jan Betts (Beckett Park Campus, Leeds Metropolitan University, UK)
Title: That’s not a door, it’s an escape route’: the meanings of artefacts in
constructing personal work spaces
In the places where we work, we manage our own aesthetic environments through our
construction, both physical and psychological, of the space around us. This paper asks
how individuals use artefacts, aesthetic or functional, as part of that construction of
their own immediate place and space at work. Rather than examining the shared (or
mismatched) meanings of corporate artefacts, such as contracts or logos (Rafaeli and
Pratt, 2006) it focuses on meanings and interpretations which have salience through
their privacy. It draws on material generated when respondents in a range of
workplaces were asked to use a digital camera to ‘photograph those objects in your
immediate working space (usually an office) which mean something to you’.
Participants were subsequently asked to comment on why they had chosen these
objects. As a further analysis, they were asked to use the images in a repertory grid
exercise (Kelly 1955) which drew out, in more specific detail, the nature of the values
and categories indicated in their first commentary on the photographs.
Initial analysis, using Vilnai-Yavetz and Rafaeli’s (2006) primary categories of
instrumentality, symbolism and aesthetics, suggests that meaningful objects for
individuals often have little to do with the main job, and function in complex ways to
support individual identity, resistance and practice at work.
Kelly, G. (1955) Principles of personal construct psychology. Norton, New York.
Rafaeli, A. and Pratt, M. (2006) Artefacts and oragnizations: beyond mere symbolisim
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Mahwah, New Jersey.
Vilnai-Ravetz, I. and Rafaeli, A. (2006) Managing artefacts to avoid artefact myopia in
Rafaeli, A. and Pratt, M. (2006) Artefacts and organizations. Lexington Books, Lexington,
Paper 4
Dr. J'annine Jobling (Theology, Philosophy and Religion, Liverpool Hope
University, UK)
Title: Myth, mortality and transcendence in Kazuo Ishiguro's The Remains of
the Day and Never Let Me Go
The narrative construction and reconstruction of lives in the quest for existential
meaning is central to both The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go. In The
Remains of the Day, the ageing Stevens is exploring his past in light of a growing
awareness of his mortality: as, ultimately, he seeks to "try to make the best of what
remains of my day". For Kathy H. and her friends, the "completion" of existence is
the horizon in which, horrifyingly, they live out the remains of their days. This paper
proceeds from the premise that the narrators in these novels mythologize their own
histories and futures in the attempt to come to terms with the contours of their lives
and to endow them with dignity, meaning and purpose; at the same time,
Conference Abstracts
uncomfortable contradictions are rationalized and concealed. Through this
mythologizing of their own existences, the characters seek to transcend the "reality"
of Ishiguro's fictional universes and (re)construct their identities. However, the futility
of such an exercise is demonstrated, since in the end these attempts are shown to fail;
both Stevens and Kathy H. remain locked into a fundamental acceptance of the
parameters of their worlds. They do not manage to transcend the harsh “truths” of
their lives and pasts; rather, they are themselves transcended by their own narratives,
which elude their stabilization and control. Using the work of Walter Benjamin on
memory, history and social transformation, and then Heidegger and Levinas on the
nature of the authentic life in the face of mortality, I thus seek to explore dimensions
of meaning and transcendence in the narratives of Stevens and Kathy H.
Paper 5
Dr. Michael Newall (Rutherford College, University of Kent, UK)
Title: The philosopher in the studio: a course in drawing
During 2006-07 at the University of Kent, as part of the new Contemporary Arts
degree, I am trialling a new approach to teaching drawing, which integrates the
practical study of drawing with the study of pictorial representation in analytic
aesthetics. The course is intended at once to teach students how to draw and to allow
them to reflect upon the nature of drawing. The motivation for the course grew out of
the idea that there is often a close, but unacknowledged, relationship between theories
of pictorial representation and approaches to making pictures. Theories of pictorial
representation aim to tell us what conditions must be satisfied for a flat surface to be a
picture of X, so it is to be expected that some theories of pictorial representation can
be interpreted as implying approaches to picture-making. The course aims to use such
implied accounts of picture-making in creative ways to assist in teaching drawing. At
the same time it also aims to provide an experimental environment in which these
approaches to making (and by implication, the theories of pictorial representation
from which they are inferred) can be tested. This paper describes the motivation,
aims, content and outcomes of the course, reflecting both on its effectiveness as a
course in drawing, and as a practical course in philosophical aesthetics. The paper
will be illustrated with examples of student work.
Paper 6
Lynn Hilditch (Liverpool Hope University, UK)
Title: Aesthetics of war: the artistic representation of war in Lee Miller’s WWII
Susan Sontag in her 2003 book Regarding the Pain of Others suggests that images of
war and destruction can be interpreted as aesthetic objects--that there is “a beauty in
ruins”. A landscape of war is still a landscape. A painting depicting war is still a piece
of art. Lee Miller’s photographs taken during the latter years of World War Two
demonstrate this argument--that images of war can be justified as being aesthetic
The Turn to Aesthetics
artefacts through the photographer’s creative use composition and form and by
considering the image within the context of the Surrealist Andre Breton’s theory of
“convulsive beauty”, his idea that anything can be deemed beautiful even the most
disturbing or horrific of subjects. A scene of death and destruction can, therefore, be
transformed into something beautiful, something aesthetic by convulsing it into its
apparent opposite.
This paper will discuss how Miller’s war photographs can be interpreted as aesthetic
by analysing how Miller uses her knowledge of art--through the creative use of
composition and form and the application of Bretonian Surrealism--and by arguing
that a war photograph often involves a hybrid-aesthetic, justified by its interpretation
as a combination of art and historical documentation. Miller’s photographs taken at
the Buchenwald and Dachau concentration camps, therefore, not only inform and act
as crucial documentary evidence that the holocaust existed, they also show scenes
photographed with a great sensitivity, a need to inform, technical excellence and the
presence of a “surrealist eye”.
Paper 7
Professor Clive Holtham (City University, London) and Professor Allan Owens
(University of Chester, UK)
Title: The dérive: supporting scholarly collaboration across wide disciplinary
Our specific concern is with collaboration across what we call “wide boundaries”. In
business strategy one of the key findings relating to innovation is that it is actually
more likely to occur when there are “weak ties” between potential collaborators
(Granovetter), compared to the formalised “strong ties” found within organisational
structures and hierarchies. This case study is of a scholarly collaboration between two
academics in management and theatre/performance studies, which ultimately led to
successful outputs in both research and teaching/learning. It turned out that one of the
most important dimensions of this collaboration was the “dérive”: “One of the basic
situationist practices is the dérive [literally: “drifting”], a technique of rapid passage
through varied ambiances. Dérives involve playful-constructive behavior and
awareness of psychogeographical effects, and are thus quite different from the classic
notions of journey or stroll.” (Debord, 1958).
After initially accidentally initiating dérives, these have subsequently been self-
consciously consructed as a support to our collaboration, and we have also used them
successfully in other collaborations. Of crucial significance at key points in this
collaboration was the specific lack of deeper purpose in the relationship. However,
Debord argues that the seemingly random nature of the dérive, may not be as aimless
as it appears: “Progress means breaking through fields where chance holds sway by
creating new conditions more favorable to our purposes.” (Debord, 1958). The paper
concludes by reviewing how wide collaboration, supported by novel methods, needs
be increased in a university system that is increasingly demanding explicit functional
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Paper 8
Anthony Haughey (University of Ulster, Ireland)
Title: Imaging the unimaginable: disputed territories in Ireland, Bosnia and
Disputed Territory (1999–2004) is a combined photographic and video practice
artwork project, an ongoing series investigating the continuing conflict over territory,
rights and ownership of land in Europe and the subsequent displacement and
disappearance of communities in the aftermath of conflict. Culminating in
photographic exhibitions, art books, installations, video, sound artifacts and scholarly
essays. Disputed Territory utilizes diverse media formats in its effort to document
post-conflict landscapes.
In the aftermath of conflict it is possible to observe history under construction. Visual
media can contribute to knowledge and understanding of past events and keep alive
the memories of those who lost their lives. Taylor argues that ‘memory is not simply a
trick or faculty of the mind without obligation . . . The act of remembrance is also the
payment of a debt owed to the dead; failure to bear witness may be even more
unendurable than the act of recollection’ (1999: 298). For example, Class of 73 is a
photographic installation, which explores how a found defaced photograph of
Kosovar schoolchildren can reveal historical and contemporary narratives prior to the
Kosovo conflict in 1999 and the direct consequences of war for a group of Kosovar
schoolchildren. For an artist, the re-reading of an archive is not only an academic
exercise; it can also be a societal intervention, where historical narratives are ruptured
and re-contextualized, generating an emerging critical and contested site of
reinterpretation. Hall (2001) argues for a ‘living archive’, extracting and elucidating
past histories and hidden information for critical attention; re-reading the archive in
this way may be considered transformative.
This paper will critically interrogate examples of how cultural artefacts produced in
contested territories transcend their original field site locations into a shifting and
slippery context of the public domain where ‘reading’ of cultural artefacts and
subsequent meaning is negotiated in site-specific locations, interventions and
distribution networks. For example, in the art installation, Resolution the spectator is
placed outside of the comfort zone of the art gallery and museum Resolution attempts
to place the viewer somatically closer to the experience of the subject, encouraging an
intense reflective and critical engagement, while simultaneously acknowledging the
audience as an integral part of the work. I will also examine the ethical issues
surrounding the production of an artwork in post-conflict Europe and its relationship
to politics and aesthetics.
The Turn to Aesthetics
Keynote Address (3)
Dr. Mark Wynn (Exeter University, UK)
Title: Knowledge of place and the aesthetic dimension of religious understanding
In recent years, theologians and philosophers of religion have compared knowledge of
God to the kinds of knowledge that we enjoy in other, non-religious contexts, such as
perceptual knowledge, knowledge of other persons, and scientific knowledge. In this
paper, I consider how recent thinking about knowledge of place offers another model
for thinking about knowledge of God, and how this model brings into new relief the
aesthetic dimension of religious knowledge.
Paper 9
Miss Donna Lazenby (Queens’ College, Cambridge University, UK)
Title: Shaping the darkness: Virginia Woolf and the Apophatic Moment
Throughout a passionate and insightful literary career, Virginia Woolf contributed
substantially to the fields of aesthetics and literature. However, in this paper, I
explore the claim that Woolf has contributed to the arts in ways as yet
unacknowledged, particularly, and perhaps most surprisingly, to theology. Through
exploring the ongoing tension between the limitless nature of her artistic vision, and
the desire, nevertheless, to attempt expression, I will consider how we might find,
within Woolf, a striking and illuminating example of the shape of the apophatic
moment in negative theological discourse. While, of course, Woolf remains herself an
'atheist', my hope is to introduce the idea that this exceptional observer of the human
condition contributes to our understanding of the 'negative' approach to reality, not
least by showing how the negative theologian's approach to the real is inherently, and
positively, aesthetic.
Paper 10
Assistant Professor Razieh Rezazadeh (School of Architecture and Urban
Design, Iran University of Science and Technology)
Title: Townscape quality and dimensions of aesthetic appreciation
One of the major aims of urban design is creating aesthetically appealing urban
environments. Studies into aesthetics and preference of urban environment indicate a
very close association between the two, and many researchers replace preference
measurements for aesthetics. Therefore studies have concentrated on the
environmental dimensions affecting aesthetic appreciation and preference.
Several studies into dimensions of urban environments and its relation to both
preference and aesthetics are conducted. This paper reports on the results of two
studies conducted in two major Iranian cities Shiraz and Mashhad using semantic
differential technique. The studies are focused on the townscape quality and compares
experts, citizens and tourists groups.
Conference Abstracts
The results of factor analysis indicated three major environmental dimensions. These
are visual harmony, functional vitality and typicality/historic connotations. These
dimensions all had correlation with both preference and aesthetic judgment.
Regression analysis was employed to develop forecasting models. The results were
indicative of differences in the aesthetic judgments and preferences of the three
groups. Experts were mainly concerned with formal aesthetics through visual
harmony. Citizens were concerned with functional aspects of vitality and the
denotative meaning of the environment. Finally symbolic aesthetics was of higher
importance for tourists. The results indicate the importance of the status as well as
the type of experience on the aesthetic level appreciated and the dimension of
environment most important through short exposure, prolonged association and
special concerns.
Paper 11
David Clayton, (Maryvale Institute, Birmingham, UK)
Title: The significance of form in representational art, with reference to the
Christian tradition of iconography.
No artist in the visual can paint precisely the object that is seen. He is limited by his
ability to see and by his skill in trying to reflect what is seen. At the very least he must
summarise. In most artistic traditions, this has not been seen as a disadvantage, but is
seen as an opportunity. To abstract means literally to draw out. It has always been
broadly accepted (although there are exceptions) that as well as showing what is seen,
the artist should seek to draw out invisible truths relating to what is portrayed. In this
talk we will consider how the traditional Christian artistic tradition of iconography
reflects the Christian view of mankind and creation: for example, that the human
person is a profound unity of body and soul. In this tradition, the finished product
reflects consideration not only of the content – the subject matter of the painting – but
also form, that is, the distinctive style of iconography – how it is painted. The how
encompasses the whole activity of the artist: it directs his training, the attitude of the
artist during the painting and the materials used. This workshop will include a
demonstration of some of the technical aspects of icon painting including the cracking
of the eggs, the separation of the yolk from the white, the tempering of the pigment to
make the paint and then its application to the gesso.
Paper 12
Professor Allan Owens (University of Chester) and Professor Clive Holtham,
City University, London)
Title: Exhibiting professional creativity through collections.
In professional fields in particular, the question of effective communication skills is
very far from being static. Powerpoint is taught in primary schools, yet is increasingly
widely discredited as an authentic professional tool (Tufte, 2006). In parallel,
emphasis is also continuing on encouraging professional creativity in the widest
sense. This can be somewhat simplistically represented as promoting “right-brain”
The Turn to Aesthetics
thinking (e.g. intuitive, imaginative). This paper is based upon a study carried out in
three disciplines: business information systems, management and drama education. It
compares three distinctive approaches which explicitly promote both a wider
repertoire of communications skills, and a more right brain approach, all involving
formal methods of exhibiting student work. The first example relates to undergraduate
students of business information systems. This is a discipline which has often been
stereotyped as involving left-brain analytical skills, and is often represented as
attracting left-brain personalities. In this case, students voluntarily produce and
annual, professionally printed, anthology of poetry, short stories, drawings, paintings
and photographs, visibly demonstrating right brain oriented orientations.
The second example relates to the use of sketchbooks for reflective practice by
performing arts PGCE students, a method not typically deployed with this group. The
sketchbooks were published to the student group as a whole. The third example is for
MBA students taking an innovative module which draws on the perspectives of arts to
provide insights into management. Students had to produce a summative coursework
in the form of a “collection”, which was then displayed in an art gallery-like
Keynote Address (4)
Professor Michael Balfour (Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia)
Title: The aesthetics of war and resistance
In Place of War (IPOW) [website:] is a three and a half year
Arts and Humanities Research Council (UK) project exploring the context of
performance in sites of war: theatre refugee camps; in war-affected villages, in towns
under curfew; in cities under siege. IPOW has been investigating a number of war
zone case studies, including Sri Lanka, Rwanda, Northern Ireland, Palestine-Israel,
and the Balkans.
In this keynote address I would like to draw on examples from IPOW and discuss the
distinction between propaganda theatre and performance and ‘resistance’. I will argue
that the categorisation of performance practise (particularly in post-war writings) as
either ‘resistance’ or ‘propaganda’ needs to be considered with caution. The location
of practice within these two categories is a deeply political and partisan act: one
person’s propaganda is another’s theatre of resistance. Performance practice in a war
zone occupies, borrowing from Levi, a ‘grey zone’, one in which it may be neither
good nor evil, neither free of ideology, nor completely evacuated of humanising
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Paper 13
Professor Tim Prentki (Professor of Theatre for Development, University of
Winchester, UK)
Title: The aesthetics of participation
This paper will examine the shift in emphasis from politics towards poetics in recent
practice and thinking about Theatre for Development (TfD). The author will ascribe
this tendency primarily to the placing of participation at the core of the agendas of
development agencies; be these governments, local governments or NGOs. Having
identified participation as a key concept the paper will explore two aspects of it that
give rise to conflicts around its implementation. The first of these is the matter of
token as opposed to genuine participation where agencies invite participation when
they mean that ‘ordinary’ people will be allowed to participate in their agendas.
Social inclusion is a pivotal term in this debate that rarely encompasses consideration
of what kind of society or upon whose terms one is enabled to be included. The
second aspect is to investigate what happens to the aesthetic dimensions of TfD when
the participants not only supply the content (politics) for the project but also have a
major say in determining the forms through which the communication happens. This
latter element forces a consideration of the ways in which assumptions about what
constitutes aesthetics can act as a means by which agencies, institutions and
facilitators maintain control of the process while appearing to operate in a dialogical
manner for the benefit of the participants.
The paper will close by offering a reconsideration of the very notion of applied
theatre as a concept that is separable from theatre. Within this conceptual frame all
theatre is viewed as an application: an application of the aesthetics of participation to
the social realities that inhibit our coming of age as creative, humane beings.
Paper 14
Margaret-Catherine Perivoliotis-Chryssovergis (Technological Educational
Institute Athens, Greece)
Title: Design for the ancient drama
The paper addresses an alternative approach to the diachronic aesthetics of ancient
Hellenic drama, and an exploration and co-creation in art, design and new technology.
The project is inter-disciplinary work, aiming to offer new aesthetics to stage design
and new possibilities to artists, designers/stage designers and design students. The
case study was an interaction of different disciplines, in regards to their aesthetic
values, for application in drama performances, with the direct involvement of
professors, students and people of art, design, and the theatre business. The research
team explored connections and undertook research on the aesthetics and the creative
powers of modern technology. Participating students’ design on an ancient drama
performance followed. Within both the preceding of the art/design creation, as well as
during the process of the drama event, research within the areas of art and aesthetics,
stage design and ancient drama, textiles and new technology was substantial part of
the participants work. The case study proved that the application of ancient arts,
The Turn to Aesthetics
combined with modern technology could provide new aesthetics, improve sensibility,
creativity, innovation and imagination. Examples from the research, the case study
and the educational methodologies are hereafter provided.
Paper 15
Leila Hojjati (Liverpool Hope University, UK.)
Title: Acts of aesthetic confession in Saul Bellow’s Ravelstein
This paper examines the dynamics of aesthetic confession in Ravelstein, arguing that
although contemporary American politicians exploit their artists in order to govern
the public and make money by entertaining them, the artists can also subvert political
agendas and reveal deeper artistic truths in their biographical writings. The genre of
biography is therefore received in this novel as a deconstructive genre. Chick is
appointed by his friend, Professor Abe Ravelstein, the political philosopher, to write
his biography. Ironically, Ravelstein who is generally idolized and worshiped by his
devoted students, followers, and disciples, is compared, in Chick’s writing, to the
politicians who bully the public into believing and following them. In doing so, Chick
destabilizes the authority of Ravelstein and all cultural authority figures. In addition,
in writing about Ravelstein, Chick happens to write about himself, contemplate his
own actions and produce his innermost truth. In doing so, he turns into a soul that
aesthetically invents new personalities for himself and for Ravelstein. Combining the
genre of biography with autobiography and confession, Chick employs stylistic
devices such as serio-comic intonation, irony, allusion, polyphony, carnivalesque,
grotesque and transgression. He creates an aesthetic space between himself and
Ravelstein so that he can have a more objective view of him and of himself. In this
paper, drawing upon the aesthetic theories of Michel Foucault, I will explore the
presentation as well as the impact of aesthetic confession in this novel.
Paper 16 – vacant slot in the conference programme
Paper 17
Pauline Brooks (Liverpool John Moores University, UK)
Title: Interface: looking at bodies in live, filmed and digitised performance
Contemporary theories of aesthetics must take into account new conceptual
frameworks of viewing and perceiving dance. They must also take into account
developments in new media and technologies that have inspired innovations in
creative practice. As early as 1995, the 3rd annual conference of Dance &
Technology ‘Transcending Boundaries’ called for a rethinking of methodological
approaches to critiquing choreography that involved ‘computer-generated or virtual
reality video-dance’ (Doolittle, L. et al.).
Conference Abstracts
This paper will discuss the dance performance project Interface. It is a dance
performance that involves live dancers and digitised projections sharing a
performance on stage with dancers on film. The purpose of the project is to advance
knowledge and understanding of dance performance and technology and perceptions
of the body in space. The work explores the interface of live and digitised dance
using a software programme called Kandle. Applying the graphics animation mode
of the software, the outlines of dancers’ bodies are altered. The work includes
sections of performance by live dancers, digitised graphically animated dancers and
dancers on film. In other sections they cross boundaries and dance together. Interface
challenges the perception of the dancer’s body moving in traditional and virtual ways.
Blending dance with new media and technology, it creates a ‘marriage of actual and
virtual choreography’ (Hutera, D. Dance Umbrella News, spring 2000).
Paper 18
Janet Evans (Liverpool Hope University, UK)
Title: Reading the visual: creative and aesthetic responses to fine art and picture
story books 4-11years
"..One of the strengths of the contemporary picture book is. Its power to delight,
challenge, even mystifies its readers". Stephens and Watkins (eds.) (2003) From
Picture Book to Literary Theory. "Children can be taught to appreciate the great
works of art by talking about them." Brice Heath and Wolf (2004) Art Is All About
Looking: Drawing And Detail. Works of art and picture story texts can both provide
the ideal starting point from which to critically examine many contemporary issues
with children, not least because of their brevity, acuity and ability to provoke the
reader. Starting with the picture story book as an art form, delegates will be invited to
consider how children's critical and creative responses to visual texts and their
involvement with fine art is cognitive work which if nurtured effectively can develop
thinking dispositions in children of all ages. Many visual texts are highly complex,
multilayered texts that are used extensively at all levels of learning. The notion that
there is no such thing as an innocent text; that no text can be interpreted in one single
way; and that we bring our own personal views, expectations and reconceived, often
stereotyped, ideas to the reading of a text will be investigated. Children's reflective
and creative responses to visual texts will be considered and examples of their oral
and written work will be shared.
Paper 19
Stephen Bamber (Liverpool Hope University, UK)
Title: Aesthetics and the spiritual technologies of Tibetan Buddhist tantra
The core message of Buddhism is that dissatisfaction and suffering are pervasive and
congenital aspects of the human condition. In contrast to the renunciate Buddhist
tradition, or sutrayana, where the locus of enlightenment is placed at some indistinct
point in a future lifetime, Tantra affirms that self-perfection can be actualised in the
The Turn to Aesthetics
here and now; by harnessing, rather than rejecting or avoiding the emotional energies
that are the raw fabric of our subjective experience. This paper explores the
topography and unique function of aesthetics in Buddhist Tantra. Tantric iconography
is vivid, immediate, and dramatic. The vast and highly heterogeneous array of images
delineates the full spectrum of human emotional experience. But this is more than
didactic symbolism: under precise instruction from a guru the tantric adept transforms
the patterns of conditioned, dualistic clinging into the liberated energy of
enlightenment. The tantric deity is both activant and outcome of this process.
Paper 20
Patrick Carr (Department of Religious Studies, Lancaster University, UK)
Title: Spiritual exercises and the aesthetic refinement of the moral self
This paper argues that recent work on the function of the imagination in ethics and in
ritual can be brought together to give an account of the way in which spiritual
exercises function to develop the moral subject. Martha Nussbaum has recently
proposed a cognitive theory of emotions (2001) and argued that if emotions are seen
in this way, they can be viewed as important sources for our moral evaluations. For
Nussbaum, narrative provides a means by which emotions may be explored, clarified,
and refined, in order to take account of objective states of affairs, and therefore
provides a means by which moral sensibilities, such as compassion, may be
systematically developed. Also accepting that emotions have a cognitive content,
Michael Raposa (2004) has drawn on pragmatism to argue that ritual is an
interpretative activity, which deploys certain techniques to focus the attention of the
ritual subject and generate habits which guide thought, including that which
constitutes emotions. By focussing attention within a particular symbolic framework,
ritual allows a privileged space for imaginative activity which acts to test out beliefs,
whilst the formalism and repetition of ritual also develop habits of perception based
on those beliefs. I argue that taken together, Nussbaum and Raposa’s work allows us
to see spiritual disciplines such as prayer or meditation which deploy aesthetic means
for the purposes of encouraging empathetic identification with others as systematic
and cognitively meaningful means of developing and refining moral sensibility.
Keynote Address (5)
Professor Graham McFee (Brighton UK and California State University,
Fullerton, USA)
Title: Artistic value: It’s scope and limits (and a little something about sport)
Although aesthetic considerations , first, are widely invoked outside the sphere of
what are sometimes called ‘the fine arts’ these do not offer the most direct entry into
consideration of the nature and importance of the central case here: that of (fine) art.
So the central topic of the presentation is the distinctiveness of the artistic value: that
is, the thought that appreciation of the art differs fundamentally from the appreciation
of objects of appreciation; and that this distinctiveness is of most importance in
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respect of the distinctive (non-monetary) value of art. These claims are presented as
slogans; and therefore as not exceptionless. They are defended by reference to some
key examples, including that of literary fiction. In this way, it becomes clear that art is
not just a culturally-valued form of popular culture. Once this central topic is in place,
its relevance to the appreciation of sport is considered, given David Best’s distinction
between purposive and aesthetic sports (restated McFee, 2004 pp. 90-92). In
reiterating who no sport-forms could be artforms, it explores aspects of the legitimate
aesthetic appreciation of sport, contrasting it with our concern with, say, drama. One
key point is that, if one fails to understand appropriately the artistic case (for example,
drama), one will automatically fail to understand the corresponding case for sport. So,
for instance, it will be important to distinguish players of sport from players (another
name for actors) in the drama: the second are characters in a way the first cannot be.
A part of the mistake here arises from an idealisation sometimes called ‘Platonising’:
that is, treating the sport one sees as somehow reflecting the real or pure sport,
divorced from the contingencies of life. The upshot is an unwarranted focus on elite
sport (as most closely approximating this ideal). In contrast, recognising the variety of
what, for these purposes, count as sport is refreshing.
Paper 21
Doug Sandle, (Reader in Visual Studies, Leeds Metropolitan University, UK)
Title: Locating the aesthetic in sport – the psychology of qualitative movement
The aesthetic in sport and physical movement is increasingly both referred to in
popular journalism (the beautiful game) and as a subject of academic discourse.
Sporting themes and references are also being used as a subject for the arts, for
example Carl Davis’ seven minute anthem, Hold On, commissioned to celebrate the
achievements of Leeds Rhinos, the 2005 world rugby league champions. However
locating the nature of the aesthetic experience in sport and physical activity to enable
empirical and operationalised investigation can be problematic. Thirty five years ago,
I wrote a contribution which argued that such an aesthetic was a perceptual
phenomenon and resided in the notion of qualitative movement. It was proposed that
such could be conceptually differentiated from qualitative movement (then
dominating discourse on sport and physical education) and from the everyday
experience of instrumental movement. While the work was well received, my
academic interests developed in other areas, but recent involvement in the arts and
sport has led me to look again at these concepts in the light of more contemporary
concerns and issues – a revisiting that would be the subject of my proposed paper.
Sandle, D. (1972) Aesthetics and the psychology of qualitative movement, in Kane, J.E. (ed.)
Psychological aspects of physical education and sport (pp.128-163). Routledge and Kegan
Paul, London and Boston.
“An accomplishment deserving of the highest praise” – British Journal of Education.
“This excellent chapter provides the theoretical and empirical foundation on which future
practice may be based” – British Journal of Aesthetics.
The Turn to Aesthetics
Paper 22
Alexandra Mouriki (Associate Professor, University of Patras, Greece)
Title: The Re-orientation of aesthetics and its significance for aesthetic
These last years though there is a growing interest for a re-examination of the
conditions under which the discussion about aesthetics can be re-activated. Some
speak about a ‘re-emergence’ of the aesthetic or a ‘re-discovering’ of aesthetics. But
how this ‘re-emergence’ is to be conceived? What would be the significance of a
return of the aesthetic? I shall argue that this return puts forth a very interesting task:
the task to re-evaluate and to re-orientate aesthetics so that:
a) It brings out the original character of the aesthetic, as something referring not
strictly to the senses but to the spirit as well;
b) It recognises the autonomy of aesthetic sphere not as a kind of isolation but as a
possibility for an unrestricted deployment of aesthetic experience’s potential.
As such, aesthetics can have an essential role to play in the foundation of aesthetic
education as a consistent, important and distinctive educational field. I propose that
aesthetic education is primarily an attempt to develop people's ability to grasp the
meanings available from expressive forms, i.e. to understand and respond to
meaningful forms. It should be understood as an initiation into the processes of
generating and capturing the meanings emergent from a specific mode of engaging
with the world (or in other words, as an initiation into the aesthetic dimension of our
contact with the world). It follows that it is essential for aesthetic education to seek
for relevant and defensible answers concerning its nature, role and scope, in the field
of aesthetics as described here.
Paper 23
Mark Titmarsh, (University of Technology Sydney, Australia)
Title: Heidegger’s post-aesthetics
Recent years have seen attempts to revive the discipline of aesthetics in contemporary
art by way of revised notions of the beautiful and sublime. This return to aesthetics
comes partly because of the replacement of the proper word ‘aesthetics’ by ‘art
theory’ and as a delayed reaction to post-modern pluralism and the wide
anthropological focus of Visual Culture studies in Universities.
This paper takes an overview of those developments and projects forward into a realm
of ‘post-aesthetics’ by going back to the earlier writings of Martin Heidegger.
Heidegger’s famous excursus into Art (“The Origin of the Work of Art”) is on the one
hand a valorisation of art as ontological revelation, but on the other hand notes the
Hegelian pronouncement that the time of great art has come to an end.
Heidegger almost never mentions the word ‘aesthetics’ yet much of his philosophy is
concerned by it— the work of the work of art, the shining of truth, the project, the
sketch, the thing, poiesis, techne. So can Heidegger’s ambiguity about art be resolved
by thinking through the question concerning aesthetics? Notably when Heidegger
does refer specifically to aesthetics he is not invoking anything comparable to Kantian
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beauty, Greenbergian formalism or a Lyotardian sublime. Instead aesthetics functions
as the emissary of metaphysics which he characterises as a limited anthropomorphic
interpretation of existence.
While Heidegger rarely discussed contemporary art and his language often seems too
rarefied for it, this paper will develop and extend Heideggers aesthetic position by
placing it in the context of recent Installation Art. Heidegger when writing in the
1930s was politically anti-Modernist while at the same time aesthetically focussed on
ancient Greece. However through his association with artists such as Paul Klee,
Georges Braque and Eduardo Chillida he demonstrated a latent proclivity to
Modernist aesthetics, particularly its confrontation with the annihilating effects of
technology. Art remained for Heidegger a place where technicity had not yet been
fully consummated.
While Heidegger is rarely invoked to discuss the art of our own age, neither is Kant
used to discuss post-modern works by Jeff Koons nor Greenberg in relation to recent
Installation Art. However Heidegger does suggest the possible creation of a new
discourse based on the existential analysis of works in the process of their making and
in the thoughtfulness of their reception. In overcoming traditional aesthetics
Heidegger bypasses the usual subjective interpretation of sensual delectation in favour
of an existential analysis of the matter of art.
Installation Art has become as ubiquitous today as academic narrative painting was in
the salons of the mid 19th Century. Heidegger’s discourse provides an alternative
mode of dealing with this kind of work so as to reveal its genesis out of the
disappearance of painting and its clarification through an ontological analysis of its
material production and critical reception.
This paper will develop these issues through what will be described as the ‘post-
aesthetic’ theory of Heidegger resulting in a clarification of sliding terms, such as
aesthesis, poiesis, techne, earth and world.
Paper 24
Dr. Nikolaos Gkogkas (University of Liverpool, UK)
Title: Repatriating humanity: aesthetics and the environment
In relatively recent times, philosophy has (re)turned to the study of the aesthetic
dimensions of the natural and the human-derived (artificial or non-natural)
environment. This turn is, on one hand, indicative of the growing concern about
environmental issues in general, but, on the other hand, it signifies that the study of
aesthetics is itself a valuable source of genuine alternatives, when it comes to such
pressing issues. What one could call the Kantian alternative (best represented perhaps
by Allen Carlson) is to treat the environment as a newly (re)discovered object for our
aesthetic sensibilities, and to shape it accordingly. The more holistic approach (which
is favoured here, and which is best represented by Arnold Berleant) consists in the
appreciation of our surroundings by means of an ‘upgraded’ apparatus of experience,
which energizes all bodily senses and the human body as a whole in its relation to
what lies outside of it. In accordance with some of Nelson Goodman’s views on
symbological constructivism and on the ultimate indistinguishability of the aesthetic
and the cognitive, this latter alternative appears to be representing a much needed
The Turn to Aesthetics
understanding of humanity as an integral part of nature and the environment. In this
respect, the present paper argues that aesthetics can indeed function as a guide and a
paradigm for the appreciation of what human and non-human nature is taken to be.
Keynote Address (6)
Professor Avril Loveless (Brighton University)
Title: creating space with digital technologies: wonder, theory and action
Creativity can be understood as an interaction between people and communities,
creative processes, subject domains and wider social and cultural contexts, and the
contribution of ICT to this interaction raises interesting questions, opportunities and
challenges. The presentation will address the development of some recent experience
in my work:- setting up a community network called Creating Spaces; describing a
conceptual framework for creativity, ICT and learning; and developing practical ways
to express and extend the framework in teacher education in Higher Education.
Paper 25
Cordula Hansen, Dept. of Creative and Performing Arts, Waterford Institute of
Technology, Ireland)
Title: Experiencing materiality through art and experiment
During the past ten years, in archaeological theory and practice a school of thought
has emerged which seeks to overcome the dichotomies between Mind and Matter
prevalent in the “New Archaeology” of the 1960s.The emphasis is now on an
experiential view of the past, integrating material culture into a wider framework
which includes the creativity and personal experience of both the researchers and past
societies. Having coined phrases such as “object agency”, theorists have begun to
acknowledge the impact of material culture on such experience. However, the most
recent thoughts on the subject question the current understanding of material culture
Anthropologist Tim Ingold calls for the consideration of “materials” as opposed to
“Materiality”, a term which has not been sufficiently defined in archaeological theory.
This paper illustrates the dichotomies between the material and the immaterial as
distinct areas of enquiry, created by the modern movement in archaeology. In
contrast, Modernism in Art is characterised by particular attention to what is seen as
the inherent qualities of materials and techniques. Sculptors such as Henry Moore and
Barbara Hepworth used the phrase “Truth to Material” to explain their approach to
form and content. Through a case study of a Bronze Age artifact, I will demonstrate
how art practice may be employed to provide insights into materials and their uses
within and beyond utilitarian function. This engagement with a physical creative
process can advance our appreciation of individual agency and experience of the past.
Conference Abstracts
Paper 26
Dr. Peter Jordan (Waterford Institute of Technology, Ireland)
Title: Taking the aesthetic temperature: reflections on the role of the arts in a
healing context.
This paper considers the role of the arts in a hospital context through an investigation
of their aesthetic, psychological, affective and physical effects. It begins with a
summary of the context in which the arts for health movement operates, through a
resumé of the changes taking place in the art world and the healing environment. It
points out that a hospital may now be seen to provide the ideal ‘public’ space for
artistic engagement, attracting a considerably more diverse audience than the
traditional art gallery, concert hall or education centre, and a much larger one too.
Recent changes in medical and health practices are then discussed, notably the
expansion of conventional scientific ways of treating illness towards more humanistic
approaches. This is evidenced by the inclusion of medical humanities as a subject on
the curriculum of many medical and nursing courses and the exponential growth of
the arts for health movement over the past two decades – evidence of general
approval and popular appeal.
The second part of the paper considers the theories which underpin and explain the
life-enhancing role of art. The claim is made that most philosophers have seen a
primary artistic purpose in ‘taking people out of themselves’, albeit quite temporarily.
Psychologists explain this effect as a focussing of attention on something, which has
an intense interest for the viewer/listener. People become ‘enraptured’. But what can
‘a turn to aesthetics’ do for people who are ill or working in particularly stressful
Paper 27
Mr. Dan Cavedon-Taylor (School of Philosophy, Birkbeck College, University of
Title: Photography and the flow of information
Typically, viewers of photographs treat them as epistemically valuable artefacts, more
so than they do paintings, sketches, and other hand-made depictions. The standard
story about why this is so has it that photographs come by their contents in such a
way that is not mediated by, or held hostage to, the image-maker's beliefs about what
her subject looks like. More strongly, others have argued that photographs put us in
actual perceptual contact with objects that are spatially and temporally remote from us
in a way similar to, say, telescopes and other prosthetic visual aids.
Cohen and Meskin dispute the idea that we can understand the epistemic status of
photographs by looking at facts about the photographic process alone [(Cohen and
Meskin (2004); Meskin and Cohen (forthcoming)]. As well as holding that
photographs are epistemically valuable because they are Dretskean information
channels [cf. Dretske (1981)], Cohen and Meskin also hold that psychological facts
about typical viewers are relevant for the medium's epistemic status. Specifically,
The Turn to Aesthetics
they hold that viewers possess contingent culturally and historically entrenched
background beliefs that colour their attitudes about the trustworthiness of photographs
in contrast to hand-made depictions, which may also carry information about the
world. On the face of it, this two-fold strategy for explaining the epistemic value of
photographs looks promising, but it is deeply flawed. Psychological facts about
typical viewers are only relevant for the epistemic value of photographs if such value
is a mind/response-dependent property. But by construing photographs as information
channels Cohen and Meskin explicitly defend the idea that there's something about
the photographic process itself that gives photographs epistemic value independent of
viewer's beliefs. Cohen and Meskin's thesis is untenable, I argue, because on their
view the epistemic value of photographs turns out to be both a mind-independent and
mind-dependent property.
Paper 28
Mr. Mathew Rowe (Open University, UK)
Title: A new look at artistic minimalism
This paper looks at the idea of minimalism in art, in particular the role that artworks
made by artists experimenting with the reduction of representational content or
attempting to de-materialise the art object, have played in providing ‘hard-cases’ that
provide counter-examples to definitions or theories of art. It provides an account of
minimalism in art that recognises the artistic centrality of these projects whilst
recognising the aesthetically problematic status of the works. This account provides a
distinction between: (a) minimally made artworks - which are minimal in terms of the
activities that have gone into making an artwork, and (ii) minimal objects, which are
minimal in terms of the possession, or lack, of manifested aesthetic properties or
variety by objects. Through a discussion of some seminal minimal artworks these two
categories of minimalism are proved to be distinct so that each can be exemplified
separately or both together. These types of minimalisms are then grouped together as
a whole as 'empirical minimalism', as they concern an investigation into the limits of
how artworks are manufactured, either in terms of an artist’s action, or what results
from that action.
The paper concludes with a call for the need of a 'post-empirical' minimalism that can
function to provide 'hard-cases' for post-empirical theories of art and suggests a
characterisation of such a minimalism - as objects have the persona of artworks but
lack the procedural, intentional or institutional framework that would make them
artworks for post-empirical theories or definitions of art.

Supplementary resources (31)

... No baby: the Olympic Arts Competition used to be a medalled event, for entrants in Fine Arts, music, literature, sculpture, architecture and the like, but was rejected in 1948 (Wassong, et al., 2008). If the Olympic experience had anything special to claim it may be that this educative and artistic dimension of human endeavour was recognised formally in its rewards and status. ...
... In the heyday of Olympia [...] the fine arts were combined harmoniously with the Olympic Games to create their glory. This is to become reality once again (cited in Wassong et al., 2008). ...
Full-text available
This book has been a celebration of Olympic heroism manifested through art. The means of achieving this have been through formal education in which the moral ‘lessons learned’ by others in Olympic history has been synthesised into new, fresh messages of hope. In nearly all cases the lessons centre upon the promotion of peace in the world, spanning from interpersonal understandings to international relations. Studying the behaviour of some Olympians who might be considered as role models, seems to appeal directly to the heart of Coubertin’s vision of education for peace through the Olympics. Consequently this publication in its educational remit may be an example of moving towards that idealistic vision.
The curriculum vitae (CV) is a short account of one’s career and qualifications typically prepared for a position or promotion. In academia, the CV chronicles a representation of the academic self in terms of scholarly activities such as publications, research grants and projects, conference participation and teaching awards. Far from being a neutral record, the CV (re)produces gendered norms and highlights continued gender inequalities in academic careers. This article explores how the CV is made possible (and consequently measured and valued) through material practices as well as via discourses of productivity, employability and success. It does this by embracing Jack Halberstam’s concept of ‘queer failure’ and Karen Barad’s theory of ‘intra-action’ in an experimental auto-ethico-ethnography of the academic CV. Using a diffractive approach, this article also calls into question the separation of the body and the materiality of the CV, our emotional relationship with the CV, as well as gendered academic labour. In theorising the CV through the lens of performativity, attention is reoriented towards the assemblage of relations and intra-actions between academic, writing, the career, the body and representation and reveals them to be complexly located within and through each other.
This chapter traces the shift in conceptualisations of academic time to understand what affect time and temporality has on academic women’s identities and performativities. The traditional linear career trajectory of an academic is being displaced by far more fractured academic life course. This chapter focuses on how new technologies of time operate discursively to both assist and impair academic labour, interrogating the gendered relationship between precarity and academics’ engagement with social media and academic professional networking sites. Entanglement with these websites is not simply symptomatic of an increasingly globalised and intensified academy, but is, in fact, driving the intensification of academic work, gendered job precarity, and (self) surveillance.
The transformation of higher education into a (quasi)market, packaged with increased measurement and shifting values, has a significant impact upon the careers of academic women. Increased gender representation obscures the fact that women’s participation continues to be measured and evaluated in relation to male norms, participation, and achievements. This chapter investigates the reworking of gender in the measured university. It analyses gendered excellence, academic promotion, and measures of academic success through Lauren Berlant’s notion of ‘cruel optimism’ in order to consider what is (and is not) valued in the contemporary university, and how career pathways are institutionally shaped.
This chapter explores the possibilities, limitations, and conditions for academic collegiality, through analysis of the transient space of the academic conference. Academic conferences are inter-corporeal spaces for the transferal of academic cultural norms. Hence, this chapter is concerned with how the performance of collegiality, collectivity, competition, conformity, and resistance inform aspects of identity practices at academic conferences. In doing so, it is possible to see how collegiality is gendered, raced, and classed, and the ways in which these are rendered invisible in academic spaces. In theorising spaces, both literal and figurative, and the ways in which such conference sites enable and constrain academics, this chapter disrupts dominant and polarising narratives of academic women as either radical ‘outsiders’ in the academy or entirely depoliticised ‘insiders’ and complicit neoliberal subjects of the contemporary Australian university.
This article explores academics’ appearance and gendered performativites in the neoliberal university. Institutions’ demands for academics to form scholarly identities on campus and online reproduce and legitimise traditional workplace discrimination on the bases of gender, race, class, and the body in new ways. Based on data collected as part of a broader feminist research project on gender and academic performativity and identity in the contemporary Australian university, this article draws on narrative inquiry to examine the ways in which academic women undertake a gendered form of aesthetic labour in their professional lives. Double standards imposed upon women in an equity and diversity-laden environment pressure women to adhere to the ‘empowered woman’ trope, but also deferential and subservient to the re-masculinised institution. This article reveals the commodification of aesthetics as well as the pressures, pleasures, and desires placed on appearance, re-orienting future discussions of gendered aesthetic labour towards feminist resistance.
Full-text available
This paper presents a discussion about the ongoing search for seemingly faddish new events in the Olympic programme, such as golf, rugby, and BMX cycling, which may be intended to liven up the Olympic Games to maintain public appeal. Whilst programme space may be a logistical concern, there is also an aesthetic debate over how the avant-garde in sporting events may take precedence over the classic, more established events with which we are familiar. Consequently, a number of questions are posed in this paper which explores the aesthetic and commercial implications of Olympic taste through the selection and rejection of Olympic events. The paper concludes that the current popularity of the Olympic Games may hang upon a frail sequence of dependencies: an overburdening commercial interest resting upon an illdefined aesthetic purpose or identity.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any references for this publication.