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[Commlist] Call from Academic Quarter
Thu Dec 20 23:25:53 GMT 2018
/Academic Quarter /Volume 19. June 2019.
Guest editors: Peter Allingham, Gorm Larsen and Henriette Thune.
Traditionally, aesthetics is related to high culture and attached to
certain experientials domains for music, painting, literature, etc., and
in connection with a judgement of taste characterized by – according to
Kant - disinterested delight. However, within recent decades a departure
from the Kantian aesthetic judgement of taste has taken place, in which
not least the German philosopher Gernot Böhme has aimed at developing a
new strictly phenomenological aesthetics that addresses sense phenomena
such as atmosphere and affect. This project is also critical of
tendencies in ‘aesthetic capitalism’ (Böhme 2016). Today, aesthetics is
not only related to the world of art but permeates everyday life often
aimed at creating or promoting special experiences.
Market communication is a field where aesthetics was employed quite
early, e.g. in advertising and in branding. However, during recent
decades aesthetics has spread outside market communication as such so
that today, it increasingly affects both professional and private life.
A number of researchers have been aware of this for quite some time.
Among them the philosopher Wolfgang Welch. In 1997, he wrote:
Today, we are living amidst an aestheticization of the real world
formerly unheard of. Embellishment and styling are to be found
everywhere. They extend from individuals' appearance to the urban and
public spheres and from economy through to ecology. (Welsch, 1997).
These observations are currently supported by among others, professor of
comparative cultural sociology, Andreas Reckwitz, who also points to the
fact that contemporary capitalism and economy is aesthetic at its core.
It is not primarily based on technological progress, but on the
contrary, on permanent innovation and creative production of new signs,
sense impressions, experiences, and affects (Reckwitz, 2012, p.139).
The aesthetic economy instigates a ‘new enterprise culture’ where the
employed individuals develop a new entrepreneurial attitude. A
consequence of this cultural ‘condition’ is a rising demand for
individual creativity, professionally as well as privately. Working in
e.g. a value-based organization it is up to the individual employee at
his or her own initiative to unfold his or her creative skills within
the framework of the basic values and objectives of the organization,
and by virtue of an innovative effort to create surplus. Our private
lives may well support our professional efforts e.g. through acquisition
of creative forms of expression and compatible orchestrations of tastes
and lifestyles. This is possible through choice of habitation,
decoration, leisure activities, travels, etc. With creativity as a
mediator, work and private life may coalesce.
However, aestheticization is not a new phenomenon. In modern history the
appearance of the phenomenon and concept of aestheticization is often
referred to the cultural sociologist Walter Benjamin’s seminal article
“The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” (Benjamin 1936).
Referring to among others to Filippo Tommaso Emilio Marinetti’s futurist
manifesto from 1909, in which the beauty of war is praised, Benjamin writes:
[Mankind’s] self-alienation has reached such a degree that it can
experience its own destruction as an aesthetic pleasure of the first
order. This is the situation of politics which Fascism is rendering
aesthetic. (Benjamin, 1969 , p.20).
Benjamin found the roots of the aestheticization of political life
during fascism in the missing changes in the ownership of property.
Instead of rights to changes, the masses were offered possibilities of
expression within the framework of Fascism.
In the 1990s, the sociologist Mike Featherstone, among others, pointed
to the fact that communication, management, media, body, and gender,
etc. had gained increasing attention and been exposed to an intensified
pressure due to postmodern simulations and the blurring of dividing
lines between image and reality.
More recent theorists focusing on art and ways of life, among them the
American art and cultural critic, Hal Foster, pointed at the beginning
of the new millennium in several articles to an increased tendency
toward totalizing design of life and the surrounding world on market
terms and not on conditions of art.
Among recent editions on the subject of aestheticization the Danish the
book /Aestheticization – connections and differences/ (Eriksson, et al.,
2012) offers a number of thematized analyses, which examine how
aestheticization influences various aspects of modern life.
With this call to the forthcoming issue of /Academic Quarter/ we ask:
What characterizes aestheticization of the lifeworld at present? We want
to focus critically on aestheticization in relation to one or several of
four intersecting themes: identity, nostalgia, politics, and
consumption. With the division into themes, we want to introduce a
delimitation of current fields and forms of aestheticization. However,
historical accounts and arguments are most welcome.
Concurrently with the fact that identity is not given with family,
religion, and nationality, and that late modernity implies a demand for
the subject to form and realize itself, aestheticization seems in this
connection to play an increasing role. On the one hand, the innovative
and creative artist has become the paradigmatic persona of our time; on
the other hand, aestheticization has become an essential factor in the
creation of the self. For this purpose, everything from performance
measures (on Instagram and social media as well as through cosplay and
role-playing); over body inscriptions (piercings, tattoos, etc.) to
special types of consumption may come into play.
A popular assumption is that the present time is characterized by
“retro”, and that it can be difficult to find out what is concretely
characteristic of our day and age. Moreover, it is true that nostalgic
moments or motives often appear in numerous contexts. Not least in
connection with media where ranges of programmes e.g. on TV are filled
with reality programmes and programmes like /The Farm /(TV4, since
2001), /Bargain Hunt/(BBC, since 2000) or e.g. serials like /Heimat/
(ARD, 1984, 1993 and 2004), /Downton Abbey/ (ITV, 2010-2015) and more.
These broadcasts focus on e.g. production methods or tools and
agricultural machinery of the past, arts and crafts items, or culture
and lifestyles of the past (see e.g. Niemeyer, 2014; Higson 2014).
Politics can seldom be restricted to being ideological or argumentative,
but during recent decades, the relevance of aesthetics within the
political field has become still more obvious, also in connection with
the simultaneous medialization of politics. It appears from the way in
which aesthetics enters into the profiling of political parties
themselves, but also in the activist events of political organizations
and parties. Furthermore, the fact that today identity politics plays an
essential role in political life points towards an aestheticization of
politics, where the rights, cultural artefacts, and expressions of
certain groups have become the pivotal point in a political struggle for
acknowledgement quite beyond thoughts of social classes and economic
For many years, consumption has been marked extensively by
aestheticizing staging, which has attempted to suspend the demarcation
line between company and the surrounding world to a more or less
totalizing extent. The aim has been – as in connection with corporate
branding strategies – to bring the surrounding world and consumers
‘inside’ the company so that both could be managed and controlled. These
strategies seem, particularly in relation to what the cultural
sociologist Andreas Reckwitz has named ‘the singularized society’, to be
seriously challenged. According to Reckwitz, a showdown with uniformity
and conformity will take place in ‘the singularized society’, and the
new benchmark will be the singular or the unique, authentic subject with
original interests and curated biography (Reckwitz 2017). Therefore,
there seems to be a conflict between, on the hand, a controlling
tendency and, on the other, a singularizing tendency that both
Benjamin, W. (1973 ). Kunstværket i den tekniske reproduktions
tidsalder. In /Kulturindustri. Udvalgte skrifter/. København: Rhodos.
English edition: The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.
In Arendt, H. (ed.) /Illuminations/. New York: Schocken Books (1969 ).
Böhme, G. (2016). /Ästhetischer Kapitalismus/. Berlin: Suhrkamp Verlag.
Eriksson, B. m.fl. (red.) (2012): /Æstetisering. Forbindelser og
forskelle/. Festskrift til Morten Kyndrup. Aarhus: Klim.
Foster, H. (2002): /Design and Crime (and other Diatribes)/. London &
New York: Verso.
Featherstone, M. (1997 ). The Aestheticization of Everyday Life.
In Lash, S. & Friedman, J. (eds.): /Modernity and Identity/. Oxford:
Higson, A. (2014). Nostalgia is not what it used to be: heritage films,
nostalgia websites and contemporary consumers. In Hamilton, K. et al.
(eds.). /Consumption Markets & Culture/, Volume 17 - Issue 2: Nostalgia
in the Twenty-First Century.
Niemeyer, K. (ed.) (2014). /Media and Nostalgia: Yearning for the Past,
Present and Future/. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
Reckwitz, A. (2012). /Die Erfindung der Kreativität. Zum Process
gesellschaftlicher Ästhetisierung/. Berlin: Suhrkamp Verlag.
Reckwitz, A. (2017). /Die Gesellschaft der Singularitäten/. Berlin:
Taylor, C. (1992). /The Ethics of Authenticity/. Cambridge, Mass. &
London: Harvard University Press.
Welsch, W. (1997 ): Aesthetics Beyond Aesthetics. In: Honkanen, M.
(ed.): Proceedings of the XIIIth International Congress of Aesthetics,
Lahti 1995, Vol. III: /Practical Aesthetics in Practice and Theory/.
Helsinki. Accessed 15.10 2016
The first step is to submit a brief abstract in English or Danish of
about 150 words to be mailed to Liza Pank ((pank /at/ cgs.aau.dk)) no later
than January 20, 2019. The editors will then review the abstracts and
notify the authors of their decisions soon after. Accepted articles –
using the Chicago System Style Sheet – should be e-mailed to Liza Pank
((pank /at/ cgs.aau.dk)) no later than March 15, 2019. Articles will then be
reviewed anonymously in a double, blind peer review process. The authors
will receive their review by May 1. The articles should be around
15,000-25,000 keystrokes (3,000-3,500 words), and they can be written in
English or in the Danish. Assuming that the articles are accepted by the
peer reviewers and the editors, they should be revised, and the final
version sent in by June 30, 2019. The issue is projected to be published
in August 2019.
/Academic Quarter/is authorized by the Danish bibliometrical system, and
the journal is subsidized by Danish Council for Independent Research
Culture and Communication.
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