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.
Aesthetic Literacy Series (3 volumes open access), edited by Valery Vinogradovs (published by mongrel matter).
Aesthetic Literacy Volume I: a book for everyone (ISBN: 978-0-6486054-0-9)
Aesthetic Literacy Volume II: out of mind (ISBN:978-0-6486054-1-6)
Aesthetic Literacy Volume III: an endgame (ISBN: 978-0-6486054-2-3)
From Yale to jail: a collective forming in Australia, mongrel matter delivers an eclectic collection in contemporary aesthetic education:
Aesthetic Literacy is an open, cross-genre experiment in philosophy of culture, a book-exercise which has taken four years to realise, turning into a maze wandering through three volumes, free-styled by one hundred and fifty contributors.
The ample cultural potential of aesthetics is inchoate, as things stand, while the sizable body of aesthetic studies enjoys sparse influence on school, tertiary, street, ecological, domestic and other areas of critical education. One is likely to learn about aesthetics at college or university, in a closed room, and not thanks to their parents, siblings, friends and lovers.
Mindful of such barriers and hierarchies, we offer to everyone this demonstrous book of searches for meaning in the most natural, river-like dimension of being, carrying you away to familiar and unknown shallows and depths. As a science and art of perception and experience, aesthetics is the first philosophy!
Aesthetic Literacy recognizes no writing style as superior to another, be it a dialogue beside a comic, or a rhyme by a mural: why would anyone discriminate against an aphorism next to an essay, if the meanings and feelings they shape are like figments of gold?
The three-volume book is authored by professors, near acclaimed and aspiring writers, journalists and storytellers, artists and aliases, and those who will not write and create again.
Arnold Berleant, The Social Aesthetics of Human Environments: Critical Themes (Bloomsbury Academic, 2023), 216 pp.
Across these essays Arnold Berleant demonstrates how aesthetic values and theory can be used to reappraise our social practices. He tackles issues within the built environment, everyday life, and politics, breaking down the dichotomy between the natural and the human. His work represents a fresh approach to traditional philosophical questions in not only ethics, but in metaphysics, truth, meaning, psychology, phenomenology, and social and moral philosophy.
Topics covered include the cultural aesthetics of environment, ecological aesthetics, the aesthetics of terrorism, and the subversion of beauty. The corruption of taste by the forces of commercial interests as well as how aesthetics can advance our understanding of violence are also considered. Berleant’s exploration is supported by his analysis of 19th-century art to the present day, starting with impressionism through to postmodernism and contemporary artistic interventions.
By critically examining the field in this way and casting new light on social understanding and practice, this collection makes a substantive contribution in identifying and clarifying central human issues, guided by an understanding of aesthetic engagement as a powerful tool for social critique.
Aesthetic Perspectives on Culture, Politics, and Landscape, eds. Elisabetta Di Stefano, Carsten Friberg, Max Ryynänen (Springer Link, 2023), 113 pp.
This book investigates how we are involved in politically informed structures and how they appear to us. Following different approaches in contemporary aesthetics and cultural philosophy, such as everyday aesthetics, atmosphere and aestheticization, the contributions explore how embedded powers in politics, education, democracy, and landscape are analyzed through aesthetics.
Alessandro Bertinetto, Aesthetics of Improvisation, trans. Robert T. Valgenti (Brill, 2022), 157 pp.
This essay develops a theory of improvisation as practice of aesthetic sense-making. While considering all arts, references are made to many concrete cases. A topic in vogue since the XX. century, as evidenced by the great philosophers who were interested in it (Ryle, Derrida, Eco among others), improvisation, a felicitous mixture of habit and creativity, norm and freedom, is constitutive of human action. Human practices – including very well-regulated activities such as playing chess, piloting airplanes, or medicine – permit and often require it to varying degrees.
Improvisation is also the true source of artistic experience. Consequently, the aesthetics of improvisation result in a philosophy of art: Art was born as improvisation. Yet improvisation has its own aesthetic dimension: that of a “grammar of contingency” in which notions such as emergence, presence, curiosity and authenticity explain the pleasures of joyful adventure and empathic involvement elicited by improvisation.
Peter Doebler, Is the Sublime Sustainable? A Comparative Aesthetics Approach to the Sublime (Brill, 2023), 104 pp.
Is the Sublime Sustainable? introduces the key points of debate around the sublime while opening new avenues for future inquiry, especially through its comparative aesthetics approach. In it, you will discover how thinking on the sublime emerged historically and then engage with the recent critical scholarship on the topic, including from the fields of theology, philosophy, and literature. The critiques of the sublime are then expanded in dialogue with perspectives from Japanese aesthetics and art, shaping the argument that what is needed today is a sublime that enriches human lives by cultivating profound, participative relationships.
Is the Sublime Sustainable? includes “Imaginative Intersections: Engaging Aesthetic Experience at the Shofuso Japanese House,” an article published by Peter Doebler in Volume 15 (2017) of Contemporary Aesthetics.
Comparative Everyday Aesthetics, edited by Eva Kit Wah Man & Jeffrey Petts (Amsterdam University Press, 2023), 296 pp.
Leading international scholars present analysis and case studies from different cultural settings, East and West, exploring aesthetic interest and experience in our daily lives at home, in workplaces, using everyday things, in our built and natural environments, and in our relationships and communities. A wide range of views and examples of everyday aesthetics are presented from western philosophical paradigms, from Confucian and Daoist aesthetics, and from the Japanese tradition. All indicate universal features of human aesthetic lives together with their cultural variations. Comparative Everyday Aesthetics is a significant contribution to a key trend in international aesthetics for thinking beyond narrow art-centered conceptions of the aesthetic. It generates global discussions about good, aesthetic, everyday living in all its various aspects. It also promotes aesthetic education for personal, social, and environmental development and presents opportunities for global collaborative projects in philosophical aesthetics.
Jacques Rancière, The Time of the Landscape: On the Origins of the Aesthetic Revolution, translated by Emiliano Battista (Wiley, 2023), 120 pp.
The time of the landscape is not the time when people started describing gardens, mountains and lakes in poems or representing them in works of art: it is the time when the landscape imposed itself as a specific object of thought. It is the time when both the harmony of arranged gardens and the disharmony of wild nature led to a revolution in the criteria of the beautiful and in the meaning of the word “art.” It coincided with the birth of aesthetics, understood as a regime for shaping how art is seen and thought, and also with the French Revolution, understood as a revolution in the very idea of what binds together a human community. The time of the landscape is the time when the conjunction of these two upheavals brought into focus, however hazily, a common horizon: that of a revolution that no longer concerns only the laws of the state or the norms of art, but the very forms of sensible experience.
Repair: Sustainable Design Futures, edited by Markus Berger & Kate Irvin (Routledge, 2023), 288 pp.
A collection of timely new scholarship, Repair: Sustainable Design Futures investigates repair as a contemporary expression of empowerment, agency, and resistance to our unmaking of the world and the environment. Repair is an act, metaphor, and foundation for opening up a dialogue about design’s role in proposing radically different social, environmental, and economic futures.
Thematically expansive and richly illustrated, with over 125 visuals, this volume features an international, interdisciplinary group of contributors from across the design spectrum whose voices and artwork speak to how we might address our broken social and physical worlds. Organized around reparative thinking and practices, the book includes 30 long and short chapters, photo essays, and interviews that focus on multiple responses to fractured systems, relationships, cities, architecture, objects, and more.
Imperfectionist Aesthetics in Art and Everyday Life, edited by Peter Cheyne (Routledge, 2023), 412 pp.
This book presents interdisciplinary research on the aesthetics of perfection and imperfection. Broadening this growing field, it connects the aesthetics of imperfection with issues in areas including philosophy, music, literature, urban environment, architecture, art theory, and cultural studies.
The contributors to this volume argue that imperfection has value in being open and inclusive. The aesthetics of imperfection is typified by organic, unpolished production and the avoidance of perfect finish, instead representing living and natural change, and opposing the consumerist concern with the flawless and pristine. The chapters are divided into seven thematic sections. After the first section, on imperfection across the arts and culture, the next three parts are on imperfection in the arts of music, visual and theatrical arts, and literature. The second half of this book then moves to categories in everyday life and branches this further into body, self, and the person, and urban environments. Together, the chapters promote a positive ethos of imperfection that furthers individual and social engagement and supports creativity over mere passivity.