16-18 June: Aesthetics, Art, and Pornography

An interdisciplinary conference 

16-18 June 2011
Institute of Philosophy, London

This conference will bring together philosophers and aestheticians, art historians and film theorists to investigate the artistic status and aesthetic dimension of pornographic pictures, films, and literature. Its interdisciplinary approach is intended to lead to a more accurate and subtle understanding of the range of representations that incorporate explicit sexual imagery and themes, in both high art and demotic culture, in Western and non-Western contexts.


Plenary and session speakers* (mainly day 3) with chairs and coorganisers (l-r): Back row: Petra van Brabandt*, Jesse Prinz*, Jerry Levinson*, Tzachi Zamir*, Ed Winters*, Mimi Vasilaki, Mahlet Zimeta*, David Davies*, Nick Zangwill*. Middle row: Edward Miller*, Camile Henrot*, Hans Maes, Hazel Donkin*, John Tercier*. Front row: Aiste Griciute, Gabriela Ochoa, Sara Protasi*, Mari Mikkola*, Katrien Schaubroeck, Marghrete Bruun Vaage, Shahrar Ali. (Photo by S Ali)
Plenary and session speakers* (mainly day 3) with chairs and coorganisers (l-r): Back row: Petra van Brabandt*, Jesse Prinz*, Jerry Levinson*, Tzachi Zamir*, Ed Winters*, Mimi Vasilaki, Mahlet Zimeta*, David Davies*, Nick Zangwill*. Middle row: Edward Miller*, Camile Henrot*, Hans Maes, Hazel Donkin*, John Tercier*. Front row: Aiste Griciute, Gabriela Ochoa, Sara Protasi*, Mari Mikkola*, Katrien Schaubroeck, Marghrete Bruun Vaage, Shahrar Ali. (Photo by S Ali)

Keynote Speakers

Martin Kemp – History of Art, Oxford University (Emeritus Research Professor)
Jerrold Levinson – Philosophy, University of Maryland
Jesse Prinz – Philosophy, City University of New York
Elisabeth Schellekens – Philosophy, University of Durham
Stephen Mumford – Philosophy, University of Nottingham
Pamela Church-Gibson – Film & Cultural Studies, University of the Arts London
David Davies – McGill University

See dedicated website

Beyond Art: A symposium on the work of Dominic Lopes


Derek Matravers
Diarmuid Costello


Maria Jose Alcarez Leon


Muray Smith

This one-day symposium focuses on Dominic McIver Lopes’s forthcoming book, Beyond Art. Dominic Lopes (University of British Columbia, Leverhulme Visiting Professor at the University of Warwick) is among the foremost contemporary philosophers of art. In addition to Lopes, participants include María José Alcaraz León (University of Murcia), Stacie Friend (Heythrop College), Derek Matravers (Open University and University of Cambridge) and Jean-Marie Schafer (EHESS, University of Paris).

In his new book Lopes proposes that the traditional difficulties around defining art – as well as other related problems such as those around aesthetic appreciation – can be solved once they are transferred to individual art forms. Thus, aesthetics should turn its attention beyond art, towards art forms. This original and controversial proposal will be considered and critiqued by the symposium’s other participants, and Lopes will speak about the book’s project and reply to his critics.

The Aesthetics Research Centre is grateful to the British Society for Aesthetics, the Leverhulme Foundation, and the School of Arts and Faculty of Humanities at the University of Kent for supporting this event.


10.00 – 10.15

10.15 – 10.30

10.30 – 11.45


11.45 – 12.00

12.00 – 13.00

13 click to find out more.00 – 14.30

14.30 – 15.45




Dominic Lopes, Remarks on Beyond Art

Stacie Friend, “The Arts as Appreciative Kinds”

Jean-Marie Schaeffer, title tba


Response by Dominic Lopes + discussion


María José Alcaraz León, “Some Concerns About the Viability and the Informative Character of the Buck Passing Theory of Art”

Derek Matravers: “Is ‘Art as Art’ a Specific Art Form?”

15.45 – 16.00

16.00 – 17.30



Response by Dominic Lopes + discussion

Drinks reception


  • Stacie Friend, “The Arts as Appreciative Kinds” 
    I am in fundamental agreement with Lopes’s argument  in Beyond Art that we should pass important questions about artworks and art generally to accounts of the individual arts, and that we should conceive of individual arts as appreciative kinds. In this paper I articulate some challenges to Lopes’s positive proposals for defining and individuating the various arts as appreciative kinds. I further argue that given his own commitments, Lopes should recognise a closer connection between aesthetic appreciation on the one hand, and those appreciative kinds that constitute arts on the other. 
  • Jean-Marie Schaeffer, tba
  • María José Alcaraz León, “Some Concerns about the Viability and the Informative Character of the Buck Passing Theory of Art”
    Lopes’s project of a buck passing theory of art is supposed to be designed in a way that renders the theory informative and viable. The theory is informative only if it is able to deal with the ‘coffee mug’ objection. It is an essential aspect of Lopes’s reasoning that an answer to the ‘coffee mug’ objection shows that the coffee mug and a piece of Bizen ware from a sample of Walmart belong to different appreciative practices. I aim at showing that Lopes fails to offer good reasons for this claim and that this threatens the informative character of the buck passing theory. Secondly, I try to explore the cogency of the characterization of the art form named in Lopes’s work ‘art-as-art’. If works like Fountain –and other allegedly similar free agents- are harmless to the constitutive project of the buck passing theory because there is such a thing as an art form with no associated medium profile, there seems to be a lack of resources to explain what appreciation might consists in when dealing with items belonging to this special art form. 
  • Derek Matravers, “Is ‘Art as Art’ a Specific Art Form?”
    Dominic Lopes resolves a potential problem for his account of art by construing some of the ‘hard cases’ of the avant garde as belonging to their own art form: that of ‘Art as Art’. This paper will look at Lopes’s argument, and argue that it bears similarities with a move made by Institutionalist Theories. In both cases on might wonder if there is still a question left to answer.

KePCA, Kent Postgraduate Conference in Aesthetics


The aim of this conference is to provide a platform for postgraduate students and early career academics with an interest in aesthetics to present their research and share ideas. Papers will be presented from a range of perspectives on a range of topics in aesthetics and the philosophy of art, including literature, music, representation, photography, contemporary art, the aesthetics of everyday life, ugliness and the sublime.

Keynote speakers

Bence Nanay (University of Antwerp, University of Cambridge)
Margaret Iversen (University of Essex)

Colloquium: Fiction, photography and philosophy

A colloquium on philosophical reflections of the relation between fiction and photography apropos of the V&A Museum exhibition Making it up: Photographic Fictions.

Victoria and Albert Museum | The Sackler Centre, Seminar Room 1

South Kensington, London SW7 2 RL


2.30 Marta Weiss (Curator, V&A Museum) – “Making it up: Photographic Fictions”
Chair: Michael Newall (University of Kent)
3.00 Q&A
3.15 Dawn Wilson (University of Hull) – “Taking it, Making it, Faking it”
3.45 Paloma Atencia-Linares (University of Kent)  – “Varieties of Fiction in Photography”
Chair: Maarten Steenhagen (UCL)
4.15 Q&A

The colloquium is organised by the Aesthetics Research Centre at the University of Kent and the V&A Museum
The event is free and open to all.

10 June: Film Criticism in Arts magazine (1952-1966).

Godard, Rivette, Rohmer and Truffaut away from Bazin’s paradoxes

at ICA Studio, Institute of Contemporary Arts (London, The Mall).

Famously, Jean-Luc Godard, Jacques Rivette, Eric Rohmer and François Truffaut all wrote for the Cahiers du Cinéma journal (run by André Bazin) before becoming renowned filmmakers. Yet, at the same time, they all also wrote for Arts, a largely polemical and politically controversial weekly magazine that was no less decisive in imposing their “politique des auteurs”, the cult of cinematic authorship that proved immensely influential on film culture ever since.

This symposium aims to reconsider the articles they published on Arts, a body of writings that is certainly neglected, little-studied and in some cases downright unknown: around twenty articles by Rivette and over 150 by Rohmer were not even listed in any known bibliography until very recently. In so doing, it will provide a more accurate view of what the “politique des auteurs” originally was (most notably as regards its theoretical premises), also in order to engage with the still ongoing, very lively debate on cinematic authorship. More generally, this event intends to contribute to the current rediscovery of that crucial period of French film criticism, brought forth among others by the shortly-forthcoming, recently-announced publication of André Bazin’s integral corpus of writings, and by the fresh release of a new, important biography on Eric Rohmer shedding a new light on his criticism.

In order to attend the symposium, no admission fee is required. However, registration prior to the event is mandatory: please send an email containing name, surname and affiliation (if any) to filmcriticismarts@gmail.com. French/English simultaneous interpretation through headphones will be provided.

The organization of the conference has been made possible thanks to the joint contribution of the Kent Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities (KIASH), of the Aesthetics Research Centre  (University of Kent), of the Centre for the Interdisciplinary Study of Film and the Moving Image (University of Kent), and of “Traverser Bazin”, an ongoing research project led by Prof. Hervé Joubert-Laurencin and recipient of the prestigious LABEX grant (Laboratoire d’excellence des arts et médiations humaines).


11am: Registration
11:15am: Introduction
11:30am: Prof. Marc Dambre (Université de Paris III – Sorbonne Nouvelle): “Arts et hussards dans leur temps: 1954-1960”
12:20am: Respondent: Zahra Tavassoli Zea (University of Kent)
12:30am: Dr. Douglas Morrey (University of Warwick): “Jacques Rivette’s Film Criticism for Arts”
1:20am: Respondent: Dr. Cecilia Sayad
1:30am: Lunch (not offered)
2:30pm: Prof. Antoine de Baecque (Université de Paris X – Nanterre): “Eric Rohmer critique de cinéma pour Arts”
3:20pm: Respondent: Dr. Richard Misek (University of Kent)
3:30pm: Dr. Marco Grosoli (University of Kent): “The Author Policy and its Political Underside. Arts in the wider context of the ‘Politique des auteurs’”
4:20pm: Respondent: Dominic Topp (University of Kent)
4:30pm: Break
5pm: Prof. Hervé Joubert-Laurencin (Université de Paris X – Nanterre): “André Bazin et la revue Arts”
5:50pm: Respondent: Dr. Mattias Frey (University of Kent)
6pm: Final discussion

MARC DAMBRE is Emeritus Professor of Modern and Contemporary French Literature at the University of Sorbonne Nouvelle. He is the author of Roger Nimier Hussard du demi-siècle (Flammarion, 1989), has looked after the publication of Nimier’s works and edited the collections Les Hussards. Une génération littéraire (Presses Sorbonne Nouvelle, 2000) and Roger Nimier (Cahier de l’Herne, 2012). As regards contemporary literature, he has founded CERACC (UMR Thalim) Research Centre, and led a seminar with Bruno Blanckeman. He has co-edited several works for the Presses Sorbonne Nouvelle, among which L’Exception et la France contemporaine (2010), Romanciers minimalistes (1979-2003) (2012) and Mémoires occupées. Fictions françaises et Seconde Guerre mondiale (2013).

DOUGLAS MORREY is Associate Professor of French at the University of Warwick. He is the author of Jean-Luc Godard(Manchester University Press, 2005) and the co-author of Jacques Rivette (Manchester University Press, 2009). He is currently researching a study entitled ‘The Legacy of the New Wave in French cinema’.

ANTOINE DE BAECQUE is Professor of History of Cinema at the University of Paris Ouest-Nanterre. He has authored several articles and books about cinema, particularly regarding the history of Cahiers du Cinéma journal (for which he has also been the editor in chief between 1996 and 1998). A publisher and a biographer (of Truffaut with Serge Toubiana, and of Godard), he has published in 2014 (with Noel Herpe) a biography of Eric Rohmer also containing some previously unpublished texts by the critic/director. His published works include La Cinéphilie. Invention d’un regard, histoire d’une culture. 1944-1968 (Paris, 2003).

MARCO GROSOLI earned a Ph.D. in Film Studies from the University of Bologna; his dissertation regarded the integral corpus of writings (2600 articles) by film critic and theorist André Bazin. He is currently a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Kent (Canterbury). He has co-edited (with Monica Dall’Asta) a volume about the cinema of Guy Debord, and one (with Jean-Baptiste Massuet) about the use of motion/performance capture in recent cinema. He has published on several academic journals and edited collections, among which Fata Morgana, Il Mulino, Cinema & Cie. He collaborates also with various movie journals, such as Film Comment, La Furia Umana, Sentieriselvaggi singulair medication.it, Filmidee.it, Spietati.it.

HERVÉ JOUBERT-LAURENCIN is Professor of Aesthetics and History of Cinema at the University of Paris Ouest-Nanterre, where he also directs the HAR-Cinéma research team. His main research interests are Pier Paolo Pasolini, the writings about cinema and animation cinema. He is currently leading a triennial international research project called “Traverser Bazin. Ecrits suscités par le cinéma” (http://labex-arts-h2h.fr/traverser-bazin.html). His published works include Opening Bazin. Postwar Film Theory and Its Afterlife (co-edited with Dudley Andrew, Oxford University Press, 2011), Ouvrir Bazin (co-edited with Dudley Andrew, Montreuil, 2014), Le sommeil paradoxal. Ecrits sur André Bazin (Montreuil, 2014).

11 April: Martin Seel

Visiting expert


Illusion and Immersion in Cinema

My talk will discuss the relations between four possible claims concerning the relation between illusion and immersion within the experience of feature films: 1. Illusion explains immersion. 2. Immersion explains illusion. 3. Illusion and immersion explain each other. 4. Immersion can be explained without reference to illusion. In defending thesis (4) I will argue for an anti-illusionist understanding of how movies can move their audience. My message therefore will be: Immersion – in cinema as well as in the other arts – works without illusion.

Active Passivity: On the Aesthetic Variant of Freedom


“Being with oneself in the other” is a well-known formula that Hegel uses to characterize the basic relation of subjective freedom. This phrase points to the fact that subjects can only come to themselves if they remain capable of going beyond themselves. This motif also plays a significant role in Hegel’s philosophy of art. I intend to further develop this motif by exploring the extent to which this polarity of selfhood and otherhood is also characteristic for states of aesthetic freedom. I will not be offering an exegesis of Hegel’s writings, but will attempt to remain as close as possible to the spirit of Hegel’s philosophy – with some help from Kant and Adorno. I shall begin with some key terms on the general state of subjective freedom in order to distinguish it from the particular role of aesthetic freedom and then finally, drawing again on Hegel, to work out the sense in which aesthetic freedom represents an important variant of freedom.

Martin Seel is Professor of Philosophy at the Goethe University Frankfurt. He is the author of many books on philosophy and aesthetics, including Asthetik des Erscheinens, translated into English as Aesthetics of Appearing (Stanford UP, 2004). He is also known as promoter of philosophy beyond academia, having published a regular philosophy column in Germany’s most widely-read weekly newspaper, Die Zeit. A selection of these have been collected in book form as Vom Handwerk der Philosophie, 44 Kolumnen (Munich, 2001). Professor Seel’s visit to the University of Kent is hosted by the Aesthetics Research Centre and supported by the KIASH visiting expert scheme.

19 June: While We’re Waiting for Kick Off: The Aesthetics of Football


  • 09.00- 10.00: Graham McFee, University of Brighton/California State University, Fullerton
    — The Not-So-Beautiful Game
  • 10.00 -10.15: Coffee
  • 10.15-11.15: Steffen Borge, Norwegian University of Science and Technology
    — This is Anfield: The Fictional Character of Football
  • 11.15-11.30: Coffee
  • 11.30-12.30: Stephen Mumford, University of Nottingham
    — A Beautiful Game? The Aesthetics of Football
  • 12.30-14.00: Lunch
  • 14.00-15.00: Emily Ryall, University of Gloucestershire
    — Good Games and Penalty Shoot-Outs
  • 15.00-15.15: Coffee
  • 15.15-16.15: David Papineau, King’s College London
    — The Perspective of a Football Supporter
  • 17.00: Dinner on campus
  • 20.00 – approximately 22.30: England vs. Uruguay


Margrethe Bruun Vaage, Murray Smith, Aesthetics Research Centre, School of Arts, University of Kent

Steffen Borge, USE Understanding Sport Engagement Project, Norwegian University of Science and Technology


British Society for Aesthetics

Aesthetics Research Centre, School of Arts, University of Kent

A Symposium on Villains

University of Kent, 21. May 2015, Grimond lecture theatre 2

Little has been said about the appeal of villains, and the important role they play in stories. In what sense can we be said to enjoy the villain’s transgressions – and do we enjoy all sorts of transgressions? In this interdisciplinary symposium we will address what a villain is, which acts or character traits we perceive as villainous, how villains are portrayed and how we feel about villains in various art forms and media, such as in film, television series, video games and theatre.

Generously sponsored by Kent Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, the Aesthetic Research Centre and the Centre for the Interdisciplinary Study of Film and the Moving Image at the University of Kent


09.00-09.05: Welcome

09.05-09.55: Associate Professor Anne W. Eaton (Dept. of Philosophy, University of Illinois at Chicago): “Aesthetic and Moral Quandaries Pertaining to Likeable and Admirable Villains”

10.00-10.50: Dr Margrethe Bruun Vaage (Film Dept., University of Kent): “Narrative Desires and the Importance of Immorality in Stories”


11.05-11. 55: Professor Murray Smith (Film Dept., University of Kent) “The Wild, the Beautiful, and the Damned: Villains, Anti-Heroes and Moral Imperfectionism”

12.00-12.50: Dr Jonathan Friday (History of Art Dept., University of Kent): “On Great Villains”

12.50-14.10: Lunch (not provided)

14.10-15.00: Dr Helen Brooks (Dept. of Drama and Theatre, University of Kent): “Spies and Brutes: The Representation of Germans as Villains on the British Stage Between 1914 and 1918”


15.15-16.05: John Sabo (School of Psychology, University of Kent): “The Fictive Pass: An Exploration of Why Fictional Violence Is More Acceptable Than Fictional Sexuality”

16.10-17.00: Professor Roger Giner-Sorolla (School of Psychology, University of Kent): “Harms and Taboos: Emotions and Character in Differing Reactions to Villainous Behavior”

The symposium is free and open to everyone, and you do not need to register. Questions may be directed to Margrethe Bruun Vaage (M.B.Vaage@kent.ac.uk)

Generously sponsored by Kent Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, the Aesthetic Research Centre and the Centre for the Interdisciplinary Study of Film and the Moving Image at the University of Kent