Speakers: • Professor Peter Kivy (Rutgers) • Professor Emily Brady (Edinburgh) • Assoc. Professor Eileen John (Warwick) • Professor Peter Lamarque (York)
With the support of: The British Society of Aesthetics
This one-day symposium focuses on (and takes its title from) Peter Kivy’s new book De Gustibus: Arguing About Taste and Why We Do It (Oct 2015, OUP). Kivy will be joined by Emily Brady, Eileen John, and Peter Lamarque, who will respond to Kivy’s book in an ‘author meets critics’ format.
Peter Kivy is a pre-eminent figure in Anglo-American philosophy of art. His numerous monographs and essays constitute a sustained and significant contribution to aesthetics, and in particular to the fields of aesthetics of music and literature. Kivy’s new book, De Gustibus, turns to meta-aesthetic issues about the assumptions and purposes underlying disputes about matters of taste.
In it he casts light on a new problem in aesthetics: who do we dispute about taste when there are no ’actions’ we wish to motivate? He asks, “whether I think Bach is greater than Beethoven and you think the opposite, why should it matter to either of us to convince the other?” Kivy’s claim is that we argue over taste because we think, mistakenly or not, that we are arguing over matters of fact.
Dr Dominic Topp, School of Arts, University of Kent
In the mid-1960s a new generation of critics at Cahiers du cinéma, who had taken over from the ‘young Turks’ of the 1950s, moved the journal away from the veneration of Hollywood auteurs and the exploration of mise en scène for which it is still best known. Instead, they began to write about and to actively promote what they dubbednouveau cinéma (new cinema). This term was applied to the work of a wide variety of filmmakers from many different countries, but broadly speaking it can be seen as designating a modernist film practice. Drawing on examples from films by, among others, Věra Chytilová, Agnès Varda and Jerzy Skolimowski, this paper will describe some of the features of nouveau cinéma as they were outlined by Cahiers critics such as Jean-Louis Comolli, Noël Burch and Serge Daney: discontinuity and ambiguity at the levels of both subject matter and form, a creative tension between fragmentation and unity, and a reflexivity that could be understood as self-critical, and even oppositional, in nature. It will suggest that the concept of nouveau cinéma can be understood as an interpretative schema that allowed Cahiers readers to make sense of a diverse range of challenging new films by considering their formal and stylistic practices as their true subject matter, and offered a set of viewing strategies by which formal experimentation and political engagement could be seen not as mutually exclusive but as profoundly interrelated.