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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.


Maryvonne Saison, La Nature artiste. Mikel Dufrenne de l’esthétique au politique [in French] (Nature as Artist:  Mikel Dufrenne, from aesthetics to politics)(Paris: Editions de la Sorbonne, 2018).
ISBN 979-10-351-0098-8

Mikel Dufrenne was preoccupied by the main philosophical issues of the second half of the twentieth century. He considered them with critical interest, concerned to find a unique approach that would be both specific and rigorous, and that could sit comfortably with the tradition of philosophical thought.

The changes in the reception of his work are worth noting. Praised in the 1950s, interest slowly declined in France, especially in the 1970s, but today his work is the subject of renewed interest. This study explains how such variations were the result of a common misunderstanding that regarded Dufrenne as the author of a single book, the Phénoménologie de l’expérience esthétique (The Phenomenology of Aesthetic Experience). This book, taken alone, does not enable one to understand the originality of his work as a whole. To read Dufrenne more fully is to discover the importance of his ethical and political thinking. We can recognize the strength of a mind dedicated to the defense of the values of "the human." The reader will also take pleasure in understanding the philosophical fictions proposed by Dufrenne in response to the temptation to rationalize a worldview by a philosophy of Nature supported by a priori thinking. The unity of his work resides in the hypothesis of Nature as an artist that Dufrenne developed within the frame of a non-theological philosophy.


Ranjan K. Ghosh, Essays in Literary Aesthetics (Springer Singapore, 2018), 82 pp.
ISBN 78-981-13-2459-8

Essays in Literary Aesthetics deals with philosophical issues concerning the understanding of the literary text and its distinctive nature, meaning, and relevance to life. It also provides an occasion to revisit many ideas towards these ends by contextualizing them in the current ongoing philosophical discourse on art in general, and literary art in particular. Some of the questions addressed in this book are: What is a literary text? What do we understand by the concept of intention in the context of literary arts? Are the feelings experienced in a literary text real? What, then, is the sense of "truth" in literature which is fictional in character? What relevance do moral concerns and perceptions have in appreciation of the literary text? These are some of the questions that are dealt with by critically responding to views of contemporary thinkers. In short, the book makes an attempt to provide a critical overview of contemporary debates and discussions of literary aesthetics mainly from a Western analytical perspective. The author argues that understanding a literary text is not a purely cognitive exercise; on the contrary, we experience aesthetic meaning or truth in terms of valuable insights that play a role in our understanding of life and emotions.

 

William Desmond's Philosophy between Metaphysics, Religion, Ethics, and Aesthetics: Thinking Metaxologically, edited by Dennis Vandeen Auweele (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), 343 pp.
ISBN 978-3-319-98991-4

This volume collects seventeen new essays by established and junior scholars on the philosophical relevance of metaxological philosophy and its main proponent, William Desmond. The volume mines metaxological thought for its salience in contemporary discussions in Continental philosophy, specifically in the fields of metaphysics, philosophy of religion, ethics, and aesthetics. Among others, topics under discussion include the goodness of being, the existence and nature of God, and the aesthetic dimensions of human becoming. Interest in metaxological philosophy has been on the rise in recent years, and this volume provides both a practical introduction and thorough engagements with it by scholars in the field. The volume concludes with a series of responses by William Desmond on the issues raised by the contributors.


Ellen Winner, How Art Works: A Psychological Exploration (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2018), 304 pp.
ISBN 978-0-19-0863357

How Art Works explores puzzles that have preoccupied philosophers as well as the general public: Can art be defined? How de we decide what is good art? Why do we gravitate to sadness in art? Why do we devalue a perfect fake? Could "my kid have done that?" Does reading fiction enhance empathy? Drawing on the methods of social science using careful observations, probing interviews, and clever experiments, Ellen Winner reveals surprising answers to these and other artistic mysteries. We come away with a new understanding of how art works on us.


Max Ryynänen & Zoltan Somhegyi, Learning from Decay: Essays on the Aesthetics of Architectural Dereliction and Its Consumption (Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien: Peter Lang, 2018), 117 pp.
ISBN 978-3-631-74404-8

Architectural decay and the reasons, effects, appearance, and representation of ruination have always been important sources of understanding the state of our culture. The essays in this co-written book offer broad perspectives on the potential of ruins, on the use and appropriation of derelict architecture, and on the aesthetics and touristification of places by analyzing a variety of phenomena that range from classical to fake ruins, from historic city centres to hot dog stands, from debris to theme parks. The survey travels from Tallin through Venice and Istanbul to Beirut, discussing, among others, actual spaces, allegorical monuments, and nostalgic aestheticizations of the past in high and popular culture, thus showing numerous inspiring opportunities of learning from decay. 


Oshrat Silberbusch, Adorno's Philosophy of the Nonidentical: Thinking as Resistance (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), 205 pp.
ISBN 978-3-319-95626-8

This book focuses on a central notion in Theodor. W. Adorno’s philosophy: the nonidentical. The nonidentical is what our conceptual framework cannot grasp and must therefore silence, the unexpressed other of our rational engagement with the world. This study presents the nonidentical as the multidimensional centerpiece of Adorno’s reflections on subjectivity, truth, suffering, history, art, morality and politics, revealing the intimate relationship between how and what we think. Adorno’s work, written in the shadow of Auschwitz, is a quest for a different way of thinking, one that would give the nonidentical a voice, as the somatic in reasoning, the ephemeral in truth, the aesthetic in cognition, the other in society. Adorno’s philosophy of the nonidentical reveals itself not only as a powerful hermeneutics of the past, but also as an important tool for the understanding of modern phenomena such as xenophobia, populism, political polarization, identity politics, and systemic racism.


Social Aesthetics and Moral Judgment: Pleasure, Reflection and Accountability, edited by Jennifer A. McMahon (Routledge, 2018), 246 pp.
ISBN: 978-1138553262

This edited collection sets forth a new understanding of aesthetic-moral judgment organized around three key concepts: pleasure, reflection, and accountability. The overarching theme is that art is not merely a representation or expression like any other, but that it promotes shared moral understanding and helps us engage in meaning-making. This volume offers an alternative to brain-centric and realist approaches to aesthetics. It features original essays from a number of philosophers of art, aesthetics, ethics, and perception, including Elizabeth Burns Coleman, Garrett Cullity, Cynthia A. Freeland, Ivan Gaskell, Paul Guyer, Jane Kneller, Keith Lehrer, Mohan Matthen, Jennifer A. McMahon, Bence Nanay, Nancy Sherman, and Robert Sinnerbrink.

Part I of the book analyzes the elements of aesthetic experience, pleasure, preference, and imagination, with the individual conceived as part of a particular cultural context and network of other minds. The chapters in Part II explain how it is possible for cultural learning to impact these elements through consensus building, an impulse to objectivity, emotional expression, and reflection. Finally, the chapters in Part III converge on the role of dissonance, difference, and diversity in promoting cultural understanding and advancement.


Mikkel Bolt Rasmussen, After the Great Refusal (Zero Books, 2018), 145 pp.
ISBN 978-1-78535-758-9

After the Great Refusal offers a Western Marxist reading of contemporary art focusing on the continued presence (or absence) of the avant-garde’s transgressive impulse.  Taking art’s ability to contribute to a potential radical social transformation as its point of departure, Mikkel Bolt Rasmussen analyzes the relationship between the current neoliberal hegemony and contemporary art, including relational aesthetics and interventionist art, new institutionalism, and post-modern architecture.


Jim Vernon, Hip Hop, Hegel, and the Art of Emancipation: Let's Get Free (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), 259 pp.
ISBN 978-3-319-91313-2

This book argues that Hip Hop’s early history in the South Bronx charts a course remarkably similar to the conceptual history of artistic creation presented in Hegel’s Lectures on Aesthetics. It contends that the resonances between Hegel’s account of the trajectory of art in general, and the historical shifts in the particular culture of Hip Hop, are both numerous and substantial enough to make us re-think not only the nature and import of Hegel’s philosophy of art, but the origin, essence and lesson of Hip Hop. As a result, the book articulates and defends a reading of Hegel’s Aesthetics, as well as providing a philosophical explanation of the Hip Hop community’s transition from total social abandonment to some limited form of social inclusion, via the specific mediation of an artistic culture grounded in novel forms of sensible expression. Thus, the fundamental thesis of this book is that Hegel and Hip Hop are mutually illuminating, and when considered in tandem each helps to clarify and reinforce the validity and power of the other.  

 

Thomas Gould, Silence in Modern Literature and Philosophy: Beckett, Barthes, Nancy, Stevens (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), 199 pp.
ISBN 978-3-319-93478-5

This book discusses the elusive centrality of silence in modern literature and philosophy, focusing on the writing and theory of Jean-Luc Nancy and Roland Barthes, the prose of Samuel Beckett, and the poetry of Wallace Stevens. It suggests that silence is best understood according to two categories: apophasis and reticence. Apophasis is associated with theology, and relates to a silence of ineffability and transcendence; reticence is associated with phenomenology, and relates to a silence of listenership and speechlessness. In a series of diverse though interrelated readings, the study examines figures of broken silence and silent voice in the prose of Samuel Beckett, the notion of shared silence in Jean-Luc Nancy and Roland Barthes, and ways in which the poetry of Wallace Stevens mounts lyrical negotiations with forms of unsayability and speechlessness.


David E. Cooper, Senses of Mystery: Engaging with Nature and the Meaning of Life (Routledge, 2017), 104 pp.
ISBN 9781138078727

In this book, David E. Cooper uses a gentle walk through a tropical garden, the view of the fields and hills beyond it, the sound of birds, voices and flutes, the reflection of light in water, the play of shadows among the trees and the presence of strange animals, as an opportunity to reflect on experiences of nature and the mystery of existence.

Covering an extensive range of topics, from Daoism to dogs, from gardening to walking, from Zen to Debussy, Cooper conveys some deep and difficult philosophical ideas about the meaning of life and shows how those ideas bear upon the practical question of how we should relate to our world and live our lives.


Heather Widdows, Perfect Me: Beauty as an Ethical Ideal (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2018), 368 pp.
ISBN 9780691160078

The demand to be beautiful is increasingly important in today's visual and virtual culture. Rightly or wrongly, being perfect has become an ethical ideal to live by, and according to which we judge ourselves good or bad, a success or a failure. Perfect Me explores the changing nature of the beauty ideal, showing how it is more dominant, more demanding, and more global than ever before.

Heather Widdows argues that our perception of the self is changing. More and more, we locate the self in the body--not just our actual, flawed bodies but our transforming and imagined ones. As this happens, we further embrace the beauty ideal. Nobody is firm enough, thin enough, smooth enough, or buff enough—not without significant effort and cosmetic intervention. And as more demanding practices become the norm, more will be required of us, and the beauty ideal will be harder and harder to resist.

If you have ever felt the urge to "make the best of yourself" or worried that you were "letting yourself go," this book explains why. Perfect Me examines how the beauty ideal has come to define how we see ourselves and others and how we structure our daily practices—and how it enthralls us with promises of the good life that are dubious at best. Perfect Me demonstrates that we must first recognize the ethical nature of the beauty ideal if we are ever to address its harms.

 

Marc Botha, A Theory of Minimalism (Lodon: Bloomsbury, 2017), 304 pp.
ISBN 9781470230301

The explosion of minimalism into the worlds of visual arts, music, and literature in the mid-to-late twentieth century presents one of the most radical and decisive revolutions in aesthetic history. Detested by some, embraced by others, minimalism's influence was immediate, pervasive, and lasting, significantly changing the way we hear music, see art, and read literature.

In The Theory of Minimalism, Marc Botha offers a general theory of minimalism, equally applicable to literature, the visual arts, and music. He argues that minimalism establishes an aesthetic paradigm for rethinking realism in genuinely radical terms. In dialogue with thinkers from both the analytic and continental traditions, including Kant, Danto, Agamben, Badiou and Meillassoux, Botha develops a constellation of concepts that together encapsulate the transhistorcial and transdisciplinary reach of minimalism.

Illustrated by a range of historical, canonical and contemporary minimalist works of different media, from the caves of early Christian ascetics to Samuel Beckett's late prose, Botha offers an argument that will equip readers with the tools to engage critically with past, present, and future minimalism, and to recognize how, in a culture caught between the poles of excess and austerity, minimalism still matters.

 

Aesthetic Marx, eds. Samir Gandesha & Johan Hartle (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2018), 344 pp.
ISBN 9781350074712

The whole of Marx's project confronts the narrow concerns of political philosophy by embedding it in social philosophy and a certain understanding of the aesthetic. From those of aesthetic production to the "poetry of the future" (as Marx writes in the Eighteenth Brumaire), from the radical modernism of bourgeois development to the very idea of association (which defined one of the main lines of tradition in the history of aesthetics), steady references to Dante, Shakespeare, and Goethe, and the idea that bourgeois politics is nothing but a theatrical stage: the aesthetic has a prominent place in the constellation of Marx's thought.

This book offers a study of both Marx in the aesthetic, and the aesthetic in Marx. It differs from previous discussions of Marxist aesthetic theory as it understands the works of Marx themselves as contributions to thinking the aesthetic. This is an engagement with Marx's aesthetic that takes into account Marx's broader sense of the aesthetic, as identified by Eagleton and Buck-Morss – as a question of sense perception and the body. It explores this through questions of style and substance in Marx and extends it into contemporary questions of how this legacy can be perceived or directed analytically in the present. By situating Marx in contemporary art debates this volume speaks directly to the function of the aesthetic in accounts of emancipatory politics.

 

Raffaele Milani, The Art of the City, translated by Corrado Federici (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2017), 206 pp.
ISBN 9780773551336

In The Art of the City, Raffaele Milani reflects on the ways in which inhabitants of the cityscape have interacted on a spiritual, psychological, and philosophical level with the architecture that surrounds them. Working with the premise that the city has a “soul,” which is externalized in the physical structures of its urban space, Milani expresses alarm in the face of sprawling megacities that typify the postmodern age and endanger the survival of cities’ distinctiveness. While he laments that the nature surrounding cities is disappearing under concrete, his concern is counterbalanced by the realization that there are ongoing projects of urban reclamation, renewal, and reutilization aimed at preserving an ancient, almost mystical rapport between the citizen and the lived space. Milani illustrates his argument by citing the works of modern architects including Emilio Ambasz, Massimiliano Fuksas, Frank Gehry, Rem Koolhaas, Kisho Kurokawa, Daniel Libeskind, and Renzo Piano. Rather than a history of architecture, The Art of the City is a reflection on the important challenge of insuring the continued liveability and aesthetic valorization of public spaces.


Jianping Gao, Aesthetics and Art: Traditional and Contemporary China in a Comparative Study (Berlin and Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag, 2018), 232 pp.
ISBN 978-3-662-56699-2

This book introduces traditional and modern aesthetics and arts and compares the similarities and differences between traditional and modern Chinese aesthetics. It also explores the aesthetic implications of traditional Chinese paintings, discusses the development of aesthetics throughout history, and the changes and improvements in Chinese aesthetics in the context of globalization.


EurAsian Matters: China, Europe, and the Transcultural Object, 1600-1800, editors Anna Grasskamp & Monica Juneja (Springer International Publishing, 2018), 253 pp.
ISBN 978-3-319-75640-0

This volume examines the mutually constitutive relationship between the materiality of objects and their aesthetic meanings. Its approach connects material culture with art history, curation, technologies, and practices of making. A central dimension of the case studies collected here is the mobility of objects between Europe and China and the transformations that unfold as a result of their transcultural lives. Many of the objects studied here are relatively unknown or understudied. The stories they recount suggest new ways of thinking about space, cultural geographies, and the complex and often contradictory association of power and culture. These studies of transcultural objects can suggest pathways for museum experts by uncovering the multi-layered identities and temporalities of objects that can no longer be labeled as located in single regions. It is addressed to students of art history, of European and Chinese studies, and scholars of consumer culture.

 

O. Bradley Bassler, Kant, Shelley and the Visionary Critique of Metaphysics (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), 262 pp.
ISBN 978-3-319-77290-5

This book addresses the philosophy of Kant and the poetry of Shelley as historical starting points for a new way of thinking in the modern age. Fusing together critical philosophy and visionary poetry, Bassler develops the notion of visionary critique, or paraphysics, as a model for future philosophical endeavor. This philosophical practice is rooted in the concept of the indefinite power associated with the sublime in both Kant and Shelley’s work, to which the notion of the parafinite or indefinitely large is extended in this book.


Robert Appelbaum, The Aesthetics of Violence: Art, Fiction, Drama and Film (Rowman & Littlefield International, 2017), 196 pp.
ISBN 9781786605030

Violence at an aesthetic remove from the spectator or reader has been a key element of narrative and visual arts since Greek antiquity. Here, Robert Appelbaum explores the nature of mimesis, aggression, the affects of antagonism and victimization, and the political uses of art throughout history. He examines how violence in art is formed, contextualized, and used by its audiences and readers. Bringing German aesthetic and social theory to bear on the modern problem of violence in art, Appelbaum engages theorists including Kant, Schiller, Hegel, Adorno, and Gadamer. The book takes the reader from Homer and Shakespeare to slasher films and performance art, showing how violence becomes at once a language, a motive, and an idea in the experience of art. It addresses controversies head-on, taking a nuanced view of the subject, understanding that art can damage as well as redeem. It concludes by showing that violence (in the real world) is a necessary condition of art (in the world of mimetic play). 

 

Paula Albuquerque, The Webcam as an Emerging Cinematic Medium (Amsterdam University Press, 2018), 244 pp.
ISBN 978 94 6298 558 2

All the world’s a stage—literally so, given the ubiquitous presence of webcams recording daily life in cities. This footage, allegedly documentary, recreates cities as cinematic environments as people interact with the multitudes of cameras and screens around them. Paula Albuquerque’s original research and experimental films, presented in this book, expose fictionalizing elements in archival webcams and explore video surveillance as an urban condition that influences both perceptions of the past and visions of the future.


Renate Dohmen, Encounters Beyond the Gallery: Relational Aesthetics and Cultural Difference (I.B. Tauris & Co. Ltd., 2016), 256 pp.
ISBN 9781780763712

Encounters Beyond the Gallery examines the terms of their exclusion, looking to relational art, Deleuze-Guattarean aesthetics, and notions of perception, as well as anthropological theory for ways to create connections between seemingly disparate worlds. Embracing a unique and experimental format, the book imagines encounters between the art works and art worlds of Rirkrit Tiravanija, Tamil women, the Shipibo-Conibo of Eastern Peru, and a fictional female contemporary artist named Rikki T, in order to rethink normative aesthetic and cultural categories. Its method reflects the message of the book, and embraces a plurality of voices and perspectives to steer critical attention towards the complexity of artistic life beyond the gallery.


New Sound and Musicology - International Journal of Music Vol. 50 No. II, twenty-fifth anniversary issue (Belgrade: Department of Musicology, Faculty of Music, 2017) 344 pp.
ISSN 0354-818X

New Sound, International Journal of Music is a peer reviewed academic periodical. It promotes musical creativity and theoretical concepts about music – musicological, ethnomusicological, analytical, philosophical, aesthetic, etc. While presenting Serbian contemporary and traditional music worldwide, New Sound also deals with provocative issues on music and scientific problems concerning music in other countries, as well. It focuses on composers' poetics, recent compositions, various research problems, etc. from the aspect of analysis and contextual musicological interpretation. The journal also contains a survey of international festivals of new music, book and CD reviews, and reviews of defended MA and PhD theses.  


The Art of Hegel's Aesthetics: Hegelian Philosophy and the Perspectives of Art History, Paul A. Kottman and Michael Squire, editors (Germany: Wilhelm Fink, 2018), 389 pp.
ISBN 978-3-7705-6285-5

This volume explores one of modernity's most profound and far-reaching philosophies of art: the Vorlesungen über die Ästhetik, delivered by Georg Friedrich Wilhelm Hegel in the 1820s. The book has two overriding objectives: first, to ask how Hegel's work illuminates specific periods and artworks in light of contemporary art-historical discussions; second, to explore how art history helps us make better sense and use of Hegelian aesthetics. In bringing together a range of international voices, the volume establishes a disciplinary bridge between aesthetics and art history. Given the recent resurgence of interest in 'global' art history, and calls for more comparative approaches to 'visual culture,' contributors ask what role Hegel has played within the field and what role he could play in the future. What can a historical treatment of art accomplish? How should we explain the 'need' for certain artistic forms at different historical junctures? Has art history been 'Hegelian' without fully acknowledging it? Indeed, have art historians shirked some of the fundamental questions that Hegel raised?


Advancements in the Philosophy of Design, edited by Pieter E. Vermaas & Stéphanie Vial (Springer International Publishing, 2018), 564 pp.
ISBN 978-3-319-73301-2

This volume presents 25 essays on the philosophy of design. With contributions originating from philosophy and design research, and from product design to architecture, it gives a rich spectrum of state of the art research and brings together studies on philosophical topics in which design plays a key role and design research to which philosophy contributes. 

Coverage zooms in on specific and more well-known design disciplines but also includes less-studied disciplines, such as graphic design, interior architecture, and exhibition design. In addition, contributors take up traditional philosophical issues, such as epistemology, politics, phenomenology, and philosophy of science. Some essays cover philosophical issues that emerge in design, for instance what design can do in addressing societal problems, while other essays analyze main-stream philosophical issues in which design is part of the argument, for example abduction and aesthetics. 

Readers will discover new research with analyses of design research, design thinking, and the specificity of design. Overall, this is a comprehensive overview of an emerging topic in philosophy.


The Life of Reason in an Age of Terrorism, edited by Charles Padrón & Krzysztof Piotr Skowronski (Brill Rodopi, 2018).
ISBN 978-9004361041

The Life of Reason in An Age of Terrorism brings together seventeen essays that discuss George Santayana's (1863-1952) social and political thought within the context of contemporary considerations, especially terrorism, as well as fanaticism, barbarism, and madness.

 

Pedro Reyes: Ad Usum / To Be Used (Focus on Latin American Art and Agency), edited by José Luis Falconi (Cultural Agents Initiative at Harvard University, 2018), 520 pp.
ISBN 9780674025158

For more than a decade the Mexico City–based artist, architect, and cultural agent Pedro Reyes has been turning existing social problems into opportunities for effecting tangible change through collective imagination. By breaking open failed models and retooling them with space to project alternatives, Reyes’s art enables productive diversions of otherwise destructive forces. Ad Usum: To Be Used is the second volume in the series Focus on Latin American Art and Agency, which is dedicated to contemporary cultural agents, a term that is perhaps best understood through the words of Reyes himself: “changing our individual habits has no degree of effectiveness” as “progress is only significant if you start to multiply by 10, by 100, by 1,000.” Rather than to merely illustrate his work, this collection of images, interviews, and critical essays is intended as an apparatus for multiplying the possibilities when art becomes a resource for the common good.

This full-color illustrated survey of Reyes’s projects includes critical essays by José Luis Falconi, Robin Greeley, Johan Hartle, Adam Kleinman, and Doris Sommer, as well as interviews between the artist and such thinkers as Lauren Berlant, Michael Hardt, Alejandro Jodorowsky, and Antanas Mockus.


Paolo D'Angelo, Sprezzatura: Concealing the Effort of Art from Aristotle to Duchamp (New York: Columbia University Press, 2018), 170 pp
ISBN 978-0-231-17852-1

The essence of art is to conceal art. A dancer or musician does not only need to perform with ability; there should also be a lack of visible effort that gives an impression of naturalness. To disguise technique and feign ease is to heighten beauty. To express this notion, Italian has a word with no exact equivalent in other languages, sprezzatura: a kind of unaffectedness or nonchalance.

In this book, philosopher of art Paolo D’Angelo considers sprezzatura in its own right, reconstructing the history of concealing art, from ancient rhetoric to our own times. The word sprezzatura was coined in 1528 by Baldassarre Castiglione in The Book of the Courtier to mean a kind of grace with a special essence: the ability to conceal art. But the idea reaches back to Aristotle and Cicero and forward to avant-garde works such as Duchamp’s ready-mades, all of which share the suspicion of the overt display of skill. The precept that art must be hidden turns up in a number of fields, from cosmetics to interior design, politics to poetry, the English garden to shabby chic. Through exploring different articulations of this idea, D’Angelo shows the paradox of aesthetics: art hides that it is art, but in doing so it reveals itself to be art and becomes an assertion about art. When art is concealed, it appears as spontaneous as nature, yet, paradoxically, also reveals its indebtedness to technique.


Ecocritical Aesthetics: Language, Beauty, and the Environment, edited by Peter Quigley & Scott Slovic (Indiana University Press, 2018), 219 pp.
ISBN 97780253032126

This collection of essays explores the vital role of beauty in the human experience of place, interactions with other species, and contemplation of our own embodied lives. Devoting attention to themes such as global climate change, animal subjectivity, environmental justice and activism, and human moral responsibility for the environment, these contributions demonstrate that beauty is not only a meaningful dimension of our experience but also a powerful strategy for inspiring cultural transformation. Taken as a whole, they underscore the ongoing relevance of aesthetics to the ecocritical project and the concern for beauty that motivates effective social and political engagement.


Glenn Willmott, Reading for Wonder (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), 226 pp.
ISBN 978-3-319-70039-7

In a world awash in awesome, sensual technological experiences, wonder has diverse powers, including awakening us to unexpected ecological intimacies and entanglements. Yet this deeply felt experience, at once cognitive, aesthetic, and ethical, has been dangerously neglected in our cultural education. In order to cultivate the imaginative empathy and caution this feeling evokes, we need to teach ourselves and others to read for wonder. This book begins by unfolding the nature and artifice of wonder as a human capacity and as a fabricated experience. Ranging across poetry, foodstuffs, movies, tropical islands, wonder cabinets, apes, abstract painting, penguins and more, Reading for Wonder offers an anatomy of wonder in transmedia poetics, and explores its ethical power and political risks from early modern times to the present day. To save ourselves and the teeming life of our planet, indeed to flourish, we must liberate wonder from ideologies of enchantment and disenchantment, understand its workings and their ethical ambivalence, and give it a clear language and voice.


Robert Kilroy, Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain (Palgrave Pivot, 2018), 168 pp.
ISBN 978-3-319-69158-9

This book marks the centenary of Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain by critically re-examining the established interpretation of the work. It introduces a new methodological approach to art-historical practice rooted in a revised understanding of Lacan, Freud and Slavoj Žižek. In weaving an alternative narrative, Kilroy shows us that not only has Fountain been fundamentally misunderstood but that this very misunderstanding is central to the work’s significance. The author brings together Duchamp’s own statements to argue Fountain’s verdict was strategically stage-managed by the artist in order to expose the underlying logic of its reception, what he terms ‘The Creative Act.’


Aesthetics Between Art and Society: Perspectives of Arnold Berleant’s Postkantian Aesthetics of Engagement.  Espes Vol 6, No 2 (2017), Aleksandra  Lukaszewicz Alvarez, ed.  http://www.casopisespes.sk or  https://espes.ff.unipo.sk/.

A special issue of Espes, the journal of the Society for Aesthetics in Slovakia, has just been published with an editorial essay and seven papers commenting on Berleant's aesthetics. Contributors include Aleksandra  Lukaszewicz Alvarez, "Introduction to Arnold Berleant's Perspective;" Arnold Berleant, "Objects into Persons: The Way to Social Aesthetics; Yuriko Saito, "The Ethical Dimensions of Aesthetic Engagement;"  Cheng Xiangzhan, “Some Critical Reflections on Berleantian Critique of Kantian Aesthetics from the Perspective of Eco-aesthetics;" Mădălina Diaconu, "Engagement and Resonance: Two Ways out from Disinterestedness and Alienation;" Katarzyna Nawrocka, "Architecture of Movement;" Benno Hinkes, "Approaching Aisthetics or Installation Art and Environmental Aesthetics as Investigative Activity;" Thomas Leddy, "A Dialectical Approach to Berleant’s Concept of Engagement." Espes is an open-access electronic journal and is directly accessible online.


Giovanni Aloi, Sepeculative Taxidermy (New York: Columbia University Press, 2018), 315 pp.
ISBN 978-0-231-18071-9

Taxidermy, once the province of natural history and dedicated to the pursuit of lifelike realism, has recently resurfaced in the world of contemporary art, culture, and interior design. In Speculative Taxidermy, Giovanni Aloi offers a comprehensive mapping of the discourses and practices that have enabled the emergence of taxidermy in contemporary art. Drawing on the speculative turn in philosophy and recovering past alternative histories of art and materiality from a biopolitical perspective, Aloi theorizes speculative taxidermy: a powerful interface that unlocks new ethical and political opportunities in human-animal relationships and speaks to how animal representation conveys the urgency of climate change, capitalist exploitation, and mass extinction.

A resolutely nonanthropocentric take on the materiality of one of the most controversial mediums in art, this approach relentlessly questions past and present ideas of human separation from the animal kingdom. It situates taxidermy as a powerful interface between humans and animals, rooted in a shared ontological and physical vulnerability. Carefully considering a select number of key examples including the work of Nandipha Mntambo, Maria Papadimitriou, Mark Dion, Berlinde De Bruyckere, Roni Horn, Oleg Kulik, Steve Bishop, Snæbjörnsdóttir/Wilson, and Cole Swanson, Speculative Taxidermy contextualizes the resilient presence of animal skin in the art gallery space as a productive opportunity to rethink ethical and political stances in human-animal relationships.


New Essays in Japanese Aesthetics, edited by Minh Nguyen (Rowman & Littlefield, 2017), 520 pp.
ISBN 978-0-7391-8081-5

This collection presents twenty-seven new essays in Japanese aesthetics with an extended forward by Stephen Addiss. The introduction surveys the history of Japanese aesthetics and the ways in which it is similar to and different from Western aesthetics. This work brings together a variety of disciplinary perspectives, including those of philosophy, literature, and cultural politics, to shed light on the artistic and aesthetic traditions of Japan and the central themes in Japanese art and aesthetics. The contributors write about Japanese-aesthetical concerns and their application to Japanese arts (including literature, theater, film, drawing, painting, calligraphy, ceramics, crafts, music, fashion, comics, cooking, packaging, gardening, landscape architecture, flower arrangement, the martial arts, and the tea ceremony). This collection moves  from the philosophical groundings of Japanese aesthetics and the Japanese aesthetics of imperfection and insufficiency to the Japanese love of and respect for nature and the paradoxical ability of Japanese art and culture to absorb enormous amounts of foreign influence and yet maintain its own unique identity.  New Essays in Japanese Aesthetics is intended as a resource for the classroom or anyone interested in gaining a deeper understanding of Japanese aesthetics. 


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.