PHIL 201A -- Modern German Aesthetics
Fall 2016

Instructor:    Clinton Tolley
   office:   HSS 8018
   hours:   tbd
   email:   ctolley [at]

Instructor:  tbd
   office:   tbd
   hours:   tbd
   email:   tbd


Time:        Weds 1:00pm--3:50pm
Location:  Philosophy Seminar Room (7th fl, HSS 7077) [map]

Required textbooks

{all required texts will be made available electronically / tentative schedule of readings below}

Recommended textbooks


Course description

This course will provide a survey of some of the highpoints in modern German aesthetics, from Kant to the mid-20th century (prior to the emergence of 'post-'modernism).  It will also serve as an introduction to aesthetics and the philosophy of art, as well as to the history of modern German philosophy more broadly.

We will read key primary texts on aesthetics by Kant, Schiller, Schelling, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Adorno, and (our very own!) Marcuse (and possibly a few others).

We will also engage with contemporary critical discussions of these texts by authors such as Henry Allison, Karl Ameriks, Andrew Bowie, Susan Buck-Morss, Terry Eagleton, Andrew Feenberg, Raymond Geuss, Hannah Ginsborg, Lydia Goehr, Paul Guyer, Dieter Henrich, Fredric Jameson, Beatrice Longuenesse, Jean-Francois Lyotard, Samantha Matherne, Robert Pippin, Jacques Ranciere, Sandra Shapshay, Rose Subotnik, Ingvild Torsen, Rachel Zuckert, Julian Young (among others).

Throughout the course we will also look at / listen to works of art from the period.

Topics to be covered will include:
* the nature of aesthetic experience (relation to concepts, pleasure)
* the idea of aesthetic taste (judgment), its subjectivity / objectivity
* the significance of classical aesthetic categories (beauty, sublimity)
* the role of creativity, freedom, and play in aesthetic production
* the differences between art forms, and the idea of a complete (perfect, absolute) work of art
* the idea of artistic genius and the question of the agent of art (nature, individual, spirit)
* the ontology of art works, their relation to natural (physical) objects
* the meaning of art works, their relation to other symbolic (linguistic) forms
* the value of art and aesthetic experience, its relation to morality
* the relations between the world of art and other socio-cultural activities (science, technology, economy, education, politics, religion, philosophy)

Course requirements

* attendance
* weekly brief (~3min) in-class reports of your responses to the reading for Weds
* weekly brief (~2pp) written responses to readings and class meetings (~500 words on primary texts, ~250 words on secondary lit) by Sat noon
* medium-length (~3000 word) final essay due during finals week: critical engagement with one of our authors, related secondary literature (preceded by a ~500 word paper proposal due by end of week 9)

Schedule of topics

* week 1: Intro/Kant
* week 2: Kant
* week 3: Schiller
* week 4: Schelling
* week 5: Hegel
* week 6: Schopenhauer
* week 7: Nietzsche
* week 8: Heidegger / Arendt
* weeks 9: Adorno
* week 10: Marcuse

Satisfaction of grad program distribution requirements

This course is classified as a 'core' history of philosophy course, and so can satisfy both that core requirement and the history of philosophy area requirement.  If you'd like to satisfy a different requirement, please contact me directly.

Reference links

{stanford routledge encyclopedia entries}

Course URL

last updated: September 27th, 2016