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sacralicious

Philosophy of Art/Aesthetics programs?

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Phil 2018 grad school applicant here making an admittedly late turn to philosophy of art/aesthetics and wondering if there are programs that anyone wants to recommend as stand-out or under-the-radar considerations. My B.A. is in Philosophy, so I'm not without background, but I haven't spent a considerable amount of time doing targeted reading prior to now. 

My orientation is primarily continental, with some major love for American philosophy, but I'm thinking of framing my applications and research interests under the aesthetics banner, because I think (rightly or wrongly at this juncture) that it will give me some more freedom to (1) get generalized training and (2) work across areas of interest with aesthetics as the axis. 

Is there someone in a program doing aesthetics that they absolutely love? Anyone getting solid mentoring while doing aesthetics? 

 

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On 9/21/2018 at 1:41 PM, humbug said:

New here, but pretty sure this question would be better addressed in another sub-forum :)

Nope. This is the subforum for it. Sacralicious is asking about a subfield of philosophy.

 

On 9/20/2018 at 8:53 AM, sacralicious said:

Phil 2018 grad school applicant here making an admittedly late turn to philosophy of art/aesthetics and wondering if there are programs that anyone wants to recommend as stand-out or under-the-radar considerations. My B.A. is in Philosophy, so I'm not without background, but I haven't spent a considerable amount of time doing targeted reading prior to now. 

My orientation is primarily continental, with some major love for American philosophy, but I'm thinking of framing my applications and research interests under the aesthetics banner, because I think (rightly or wrongly at this juncture) that it will give me some more freedom to (1) get generalized training and (2) work across areas of interest with aesthetics as the axis. 

Is there someone in a program doing aesthetics that they absolutely love? Anyone getting solid mentoring while doing aesthetics? 

 

This is a move you need to make with your eyes wide open--way more wide open than for getting a PhD in philosophy in the first place. You absolutely need to know that the job prospects in aesthetics are just about the worst of any subfield of philosophy. Most years, there's one job in the AOS; often, there are none. Occasionally you get bumper crops of 3+, but that's rare. You have to expect one job a year, max. And you have to realize that it's a subfield that's widely (and unjustly) looked down upon. Things are better among continentalists, but still not good. So you have to plan your trajectory accordingly.

The result is that anybody working in aesthetics has to specialize in something else, too. And that's not a bad thing, since aesthetics gives you the opportunity to bring philosophical work from elsewhere into conversation with human culture, and that makes for really interesting stuff. But from the practical and research standpoints, you absolutely have to master some other aspect of the philosophical literature. Even then, that's not enough for the job market (you'll still get discounted as not the real deal).

On the plus side, there's much less legitimate competition for that one job a year. And the main aesthetics associations--the ASA and the BSA--are great, very friendly, and do a lot of work to promote aesthetics, and to help students (e.g. student travel to the conferences is funded, they fund lots of grants, they have editorial opportunities for students, and the ASA is going to start sponsoring a postdoc). These are relatively large organizations (especially the ASA), and so there are lots of conferences every year--4 for the ASA, 1 BSA, 1 CSA, and 1 ESA, plus a few other regular events. That all means that networking and getting conference experience is a lot easier in this subfield than in others.

 

With those warnings out of the way, I suppose it needs to be said that the state of graduate education in aesthetics in North America (if that's where you're looking) is not great. A lot of programs have people who claim aesthetics as an AOS, but most of those aren't affiliated with the ASA/BSA/CSA/ESA, and don't publish in the relevant journals (if they publish in aesthetics at all). So you have to be careful. You absolutely need a supervisor who is active in the subfield, because you can't afford not to have a vocal advocate. To my mind, the best ranked departments in North America for the study of aesthetics are (in alphabetical order) CUNY, McGill, NYU, and UBC. Among the unranked departments, I'd say it's Illinois-Chicago, Oklahoma, and Vanderbilt (since they hired Taylor). I may have forgotten a department, but at any rate I'd say that these are currently the best places to do that kind of work. You'll have noticed, though, that some of these departments aren't necessarily the best places for a continental specialization. For that, I'd give much closer consideration to Columbia, Oklahoma, UIC, and Vanderbilt. (McGill is continental-friendly, but their main aesthetician is wholly analytic.)

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13 hours ago, goldenstardust11 said:

As far as more under the radar programs go with strengths in philosophy of art, I'd go with DePaul and Temple. 

Unfortunately, I wouldn't count DePaul. It's a fantastic continental department, but one of those pretend ghosts when it comes to aesthetics/philosophy of art.

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On 9/24/2018 at 12:28 AM, maxhgns said:

Nope. This is the subforum for it. Sacralicious is asking about a subfield of philosophy.

 

This one's actually my fault. This topic was originally on the "Comments, Questions, Etc." forum but I moved it here after realizing the topic would get more replies here. @humbug just happened to reply to it before I managed to move it.

@sacralicious: Have you looked at who influences you in Aesthetics and where they're working or where they're got their degree from? I find working backwards is often an easy way to also discover departments and new people who may have interacted with them in the past. :)

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11 hours ago, maxhgns said:

Unfortunately, I wouldn't count DePaul. It's a fantastic continental department, but one of those pretend ghosts when it comes to aesthetics/philosophy of art.

Yeah; I guess it depends what area of Aesthetics OP is interested in. I'm partial to German idealist aesthetics so Maria Acosta is enough of a draw to include DePaul in my favorites for aesthetics ?. But your point is well-taken.

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3 hours ago, Warelin said:

This one's actually my fault. This topic was originally on the "Comments, Questions, Etc." forum but I moved it here after realizing the topic would get more replies here. @humbug just happened to reply to it before I managed to move it.

Ah! That makes a lot of sense!

 

1 hour ago, goldenstardust11 said:

Yeah; I guess it depends what area of Aesthetics OP is interested in. I'm partial to German idealist aesthetics so Maria Acosta is enough of a draw to include DePaul in my favorites for aesthetics ?. But your point is well-taken.

Yeah, sure. But even then, Acosta is not really part of the aesthetics community, so she can't exactly help you with that network (nor has she published in any aesthetics journals). That's not to say her work isn't great; it's just to say that she's not really involved in that area. There are plenty of 19th c. folks who are, however (e.g. Guyer, Shapshay, Gjesdal, Ostaric, Goehr, Zuckert, etc.), and I think one would be better served by having them as advisors.

Edited by maxhgns

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21 hours ago, maxhgns said:

Ah! That makes a lot of sense!

 

Yeah, sure. But even then, Acosta is not really part of the aesthetics community, so she can't exactly help you with that network (nor has she published in any aesthetics journals). That's not to say her work isn't great; it's just to say that she's not really involved in that area. There are plenty of 19th c. folks who are, however (e.g. Guyer, Shapshay, Gjesdal, Ostaric, Goehr, Zuckert, etc.), and I think one would be better served by having them as advisors.

Fair. Also Gjesdal's incredible.

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