Contemporary Aesthetics does not publish book reviews. However, to inform our readers of new publications of interest, we do publish brief descriptions extracted from information provided by the publishers. These notices do not necessarily represent the views or judgment of this journal. Readers are invited to send us such information about books they think will interest other readers of CA.
Davies, Musical Understandings
(Oxford University Press, 2011), 221 pp.
Musical Understandings presents an engaging
collection of essays on the philosophy of music, including how music expresses
emotion and what is distinctive to the listener’s response to this
expressiveness; the modes of perception and understanding that can be expected
of skilled listeners, performers, analysts, and composers, and the various
manners in which these understandings can be manifest; the manner in which
musical works exist and their relation to their instances or performances; and
musical profundity. As well as reviewing
the work of philosophers of music, a number of the chapters both draw on and
critically reflect on current work by psychologists concerning music. The collection includes new material, a
number of adapted articles which allow for a more comprehensive, unified treatment
of the issues at stake, and work published in English for the first time.
and Art: Justice, Ethics and Aesthetics, ed. Oren Ben-Dor (Routledge-Cavendish, 2011), 320 pp.
engaging with the full range of the arts, contributors to this volume consider
the relationship between law, justice, the ethical and the aesthetic. Art continually informs the ethics of a legal
theory through its concern to address how theoretical abstractions and concrete
oppressions overlook singularity and spontaneity. Indeed, the exercise of the legal role and the
scholarly understanding of legal texts were classically defined as ars iuris, an art of law, and the intent
of this book is to elicit the importance of the relationship between law and
art. What can law and art bring to one
another, and what can their relationship tell us about how truth relates to
power? The insights presented in this
collection disturb and supplement conventional accounts of justice,
inaugurating new possibilities for addressing the origin of violence in our
Jacques Rancière, Mute
Speech, transl. James
Swenson (New York: Columbia University
Press, 2011), 194 pp.
Jacques Rancière has continually unsettled political
discourse through his questioning of aesthetic “distributions on the sensible,”
which configure the limits of what can be seen and said. Mute
Speech proposes a new framework for thinking about the history of art and
literature. Rancière argues that our
current notion of “literature” is a relatively recent creation, having first
appeared in the wake of the French Revolution and with the rise of
Romanticism. In its rejection of the
system of representational hierarchies that had constituted belles-lettres,
“literature” is founded upon a radical equivalence in which all things are
possible expressions of the life of a people.
With an analysis reaching back to Plato, Aristotle, the German
Romantics, Vico, and Cervantes and concluding with readings of Flaubert,
Mallarmé, and Proust, Rancière demonstrates the democratic impulse lying at the
heart of literature’s capacity for reinvention.
Veikko Rantala, Aesthetic
Tension, Cognitive Aspects of Interpretation (Peter Lang, 2011), 242 pp.
This essay is an interdisciplinary study of what is
cognitively going on when we interpret, represent, or evaluate cultural
entities, including works of art. The
role of interpretation in experience and in cultural objects is elucidated from
a cognitive point of view. The book
relies on theories of action, perception, possible worlds, possibility and
necessity, intentionality, cognition, and brain research. It contains a number of examples confirming
what is said in its theoretical parts.
Joining theories and concrete examples yields new explanatory insights
into some much-discussed aesthetic problems related to interpretation. One observation is that cognitive theories
can be used to dissolve the disagreement about two philosophical traditions,
analytic and continental.
Between Art and
Anthropology, Contemporary Ethnographic Practice, eds. Arnd Schneider and
Christopher Wright (London: Berg Publishers, 2011), 224 pp.
and anthropologists share a set of common practices that raise similar ethical
issues. Between Art and Anthropology considers contemporary art and
anthropology in terms of fieldwork practice. The book encourages artists and
anthropologists to learn directly from each other's practices 'in the field.' It goes beyond the so-called 'ethnographic
turn' of much contemporary art and the 'crisis of representation' in
anthropology to explore the implications of the new anthropology of the senses
and ethical issues for future art-anthropology collaborations.
Subversive Strategies in Contemporary
Chinese Art, eds. Mary Bittner Wiseman and Liu Yuedi (Leiden:
Brill, 2011), 417 pp.
What is art
and what is its role in a China that is changing rapidly? These
questions lie at the heart of Chinese contemporary art. Subversive
Strategies paves the way for the rebirth of a Chinese aesthetics adequate
to the art whose sheer energy and imaginative power are subverting the ideas
through which Western and Chinese critics think about art. The first collection of essays by American
and Chinese philosophers and art historians, Subversive Strategies begins by showing how the art reflects
current crises and is working them out through bodies that are gendered and political. The essays proceed to raise the question of
Chinese identity and a global world and note a blurring of the boundary between
art and everyday life.
Heroes, Monsters and
Values: Science Fiction Films of the
1970’s, eds., Michael Berman and Rohit Dalvi (Cambridge Scholars Publishing
(2011), 210 pp.
This international anthology brings together many diverse
views on blockbuster and cult science fiction films of the1970’s. These essays, which range in focus from Alien
to Zardoz, explore some of the most fundamental questions about the meaning of human being. The chapters of the first section challenge
our notions of heroism, confronting our ideas with issues of history, gender
and embodiment. The second section delves
into the human caused monstrosities of our own ingenuity and curiosity in which
our technology transforms the human into a source of horror. The anthology’s final section speaks to the
cinematic depictions that disrupt our religious and moral assumptions.
Guter, Aesthetics A- Z, (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, January 2011),
in a clear and engaging style, Aesthetics
A-Z provides authoritative coverage of the main concepts, arguments,
problems and key figures in aesthetics and the philosophy of art. Informative entries, extensively
cross-referenced and supplemented with
carefully chosen suggestions for further reading, provide a layered treatment
of both historical background and contemporary debates in aesthetics, and
underline points of intersection between aesthetics and other branches of
philosophy or other fields that study the arts.