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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.



Aesthetics: A Reader in Philosophy of the Arts, fourth edition, edited by David Goldblatt, Lee B. Brown, & Stephanie Patridge (New York and London: Routledge, 2018), 541 pp.

ISBN 978-1-138-23588-5

Aesthetics: A Reader in Philosophy of the Arts, fourth edition, contains a selection of ninety-six readings organized by individual art forms as well as a final section of readings in philosophical aesthetics that cover multiple art forms. Sections include essays on topics such as painting, photography and movies, architecture, music, literature, and performance, as well as contemporary subjects such as mass art, popular arts, the aesthetics of the everyday, and the natural environment. Readings are brief, accessible for undergraduates, and conceptually focused, allowing instructors many different syllabi possibilities using only this single volume. The fourth edition is expanded with nineteen new essays Nevertheless, this edition does not neglect classic writers in traditional aesthetics: Plato, Aristotle, Hume, Kant, Hegel, Heidegger, Collingwood, Bell, and writers of similar status in aesthetics.


Paul Christiansen, Orchestrating Public Opinion: How Music Persuades in Television Political Ads for US Presidential Campaigns, 1952-2016 (Amsterdam University Press, 2017), 276 pp.
ISBN 978 94 6298 188 1

Orchestrating Public Opinion examines in detail music's persuasive role in political ads for US presidential campaigns. Studies of political ads tend to consider music something of an afterthought, innocuous accompaniment for a narrator. In this book Christiansen takes an opposing view, arguing that music is crucial to an ad's construction. In some cases, it is even determinative: that is, all other elements - images, voiceover, sound effects, written text, and so on, can be circumscribed by and interpreted in relation to music. This book presents correspondence between campaign officials and ad agencies, storyboards, and music scores related to ads such as Eisenhower's "I Like Ike" or Reagan's "Morning in America."

Engaging music seriously through detailed musical analysis as well as exploring music's relation to visual and textual elements in ads, Orchestrating Public Opinion brings together disparate approaches toward understanding the surreptitious rhetoric of music.


Pavle Levi, Jolted Images: Unbound Analytic (Eastern European Screen Cultures) (Amsterdam University Press, 2018),
216 pp.
ISBN 978-9462983618

Jolted Images brings together a large cast of mainstream and avant-garde cineastes, artists, photographers, comics creators, poets, and more to reflect on a wide range of phenomena from the realms of cinema and visual culture in the Yugoslav region, Europe more broadly, and North America. Far from a staid monograph, the book takes a cue from filmmaker Dušan Makavejev, who once wrote that there are times when it is necessary "to jolt art, no matter what the outcome." To that end, the book infuses its analysis with a playful, creative transfiguration of its material.
 

Constance Classen, The Museum of the Senses: Experiencing Art and Collections (Bloomsbury, 2017), 184 pp.
ISBN 9781474252447

Traditionally sight has been the only sense with a ticket to enter the museum. The same is true of histories of art in which artworks are often presented as purely visual objects. In The Museum of the Senses, Constance Classen offers a new way of approaching the history of art through the senses, revealing how people used to handle, smell, and even taste collection pieces. Topics range from the tactile power of relics to the sensuous allure of cabinets of curiosities, and from the feel of a Rembrandt to the scent of Monet's garden. The book concludes with a discussion of how contemporary museums are stimulating the senses through interactive and multimedia displays.

Will Daddario, Barogue, Venice, Theatre, Philosophy (Springer, 2017), 261 pp.
ISBN 978-3-319-49522-4

This book theorizes the baroque as neither a time period nor an artistic style but as a collection of bodily practices developed from clashes between governmental discipline and artistic excess, moving between the dramaturgy of Jesuit spiritual exercises, the political theatre-making of Angelo Beolco (aka Ruzzante), and the civic governance of the Venetian Republic at a time of great tumult. The manuscript assembles plays seldom read or viewed by English-speaking audiences, archival materials from three Venetian archives, and several secondary sources on baroque, Renaissance, and early modern epistemology in order to forward an argument for understanding the baroque as a gathering of social practices. Such a rethinking of the baroque aims to complement the already lively studies of neo-baroque aesthetics and ethics emerging in contemporary scholarship on (for example) Latin American political art.


Culinary Turn: Aesthetic Practice of Cookery, eds. Nicolaj van der Meulen & Jӧrg Wiesel (Germany: transcript, 2017), 324 pp.
ISBN 978-3-8376-3031-2

Kitchen, cooking, nutrition, and eating have become omnipresent cultural topics. They stand at the center of design, gastronomy, nutrition science, and agriculture. Artists have appropriated cooking as an aesthetic practice, and cooks, in turn, are adapting the staging practices that go with an artistic self-image. This development is accompanied by a crisis of eating behavior and a philosophy of cooking as a speculative cultural technique. The volume investigates the dimensions of a new culinary turn, combining contributions from the theory and practice of cooking.


Yuriko Saito, Aesthetics of the Familiar: Everyday Life and World-Making (Oxford University Press, 2017), 246 pp.
ISBN 9780199672103

Aesthetics of the Familiar explores the nature and significance of the aesthetic dimensions of people's everyday life. Everyday aesthetics has the recognized value of enriching one's life experiences and sharpening one's attentiveness and sensibility; however, Yuriko Saito draws out its broader importance for how we make our worlds, as citizens and consumers. Saito urges that we have a social responsibility to encourage cultivation of aesthetic literacy and vigilance against aesthetic manipulation and argues that ultimately, everyday aesthetics can be an effective instrument for directing humanity's collective and cumulative world-making project for the betterment of all its inhabitants. 

Everyday aesthetics has been seen as a challenge to contemporary Anglo-American aesthetics discourse, which is dominated by the discussion of art and beauty. Saito responds to controversies about the nature, boundary, and status of everyday aesthetic and argues for its legitimacy. Aesthetics of the Familiar highlights the multifaceted aesthetic dimensions of everyday life that are not fully accounted for by the commonly held account of defamiliarizing the familiar.

 

Carsten Strathausen, Bioaesthetics: Making Sense of Life in Science and the Arts (University of Minnesota Press, 2017), 305 pp.
ISBN 9781517900755

In recent years, bioaesthetics has used the latest discoveries in evolutionary studies and neuroscience to provide new ways of looking at both art and aesthetics. Carsten Strathausen's exploration of this emerging field is a comprehensive account of its ideas, as well as a timely critique of its limitations. Strathausen familiarizes readers with the basics of bioaesthetics, grounding them in its philosophical underpinnings while articulating its key components. He delves into the longstanding "two cultures" problem that separates the arts and the sciences. Seeking to make bioaesthetics a more robust way of thinking, Strathausen critiques it for failing to account for science's historical and cultural assumptions. At a time when humanities departments are shrinking and when STEM education is on the rise, Bioaesthetics makes vital points about the limitations of science while lodging a robust defense of the importance of the humanities.