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Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Criticism, 7.5 c

Course code:5ES056, Report code:50506, 100%, DAG, NML
week: 41 - 45 Semester: Autumn 2020 (2020-10-05 - 2020-11-08)

This course is part of a joint section.

Collaboration information

Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Criticism (C/MA), 7.5p, HT 2020

Weeks 41–44. Please see course schedule for precise information.



The figure of the critic and the idea of criticism are constant points of reference in the philosophical literature of aesthetics. That said, there are wide disagreements about the concept and function of art-critical texts and about the qualities of their authors. Should criticism aim to evaluate its object or merely to describe it. Are critics required to justify their observations (whether evaluative or descriptive) and if so, how? Is there a standard of correctness in criticism, or is it more a matter of being convincing, of critical success convincing in getting the reader to see, hear or feel what the critic herself sees? Does the work of criticism leave its object untouched? In what sense does criticism have its own aesthetics – that is, do critical texts themselves have aesthetic value and, if so, how does this relate to the aesthetic value they seek to identify in the artworks they are about?


The course will take stock of the history of arts criticism, the main current contrasting conceptions of the form as well as explore possibilities for revisionary approaches to the subject. It will also aim at taking a closer look at the practice of criticism and students will be expected to complete a written critical review of an artwork, text or performance. This year it is proposed that each student chooses their own review subject. It could be a live performance or exhibition, a streamed performance or event, or something distributed in the form of a recording (music, film) or book.


Course requirements

Students are required to attend seminars and be prepared to discuss the ideas and reading prescribed in advance of each occasion. The examination takes the form of a critical review (approx. 700 words); and a written essay on a single topic (2000 words C-level; 3000 words MA). You will also be required to give a presentation of your essay project at the end of the course, which will allow you to test out your ideas and receive feedback from your fellow-students and teachers. The examination elements will be weighted at 30% (review), 70% (essay) of the final mark.



All teaching will take place online via zoom at the following address: 619 6899 5596 (password: philcrit20.) For information on how to obtain and install zoom see here).


Course teachers

Guy Dammann (guy.dammann@filosofi.uu.se)

Irene Martinez Marin (irene.martinez@filosofi.uu.se)