Friday, September 2, 2016


The conference Concepts of Aesthetic Form is devoted to the concept of form in humanistic inquiry. It is especially interested in the kind of formal generality at issue in humanistic disciplines, and the differences between such formality and, for example, the concept of scientific law. Our approach is exploratory, and we begin with no fixed commitments, but our initial orientation assumes that what distinguishes objects of study in the humanities - literature, art objects, music, etc. - is that they are the objects they are by virtue of the self-understanding embodied in these objects, and that humanistic inquiry attempts to articulate the self-understanding and purposiveness that is the basis of the distinct unity of the objects themselves.

We are interested both in basic transformations in the history of philosophical thought about these issues, from Plato and Aristotle to Kant and Hegel and many others, as well as in the embodiment of different alternatives of such formal unity in various art works and in critical thinking about these works.

This conference is a sequel to the conference Revolutions in the Concept of Form, about which you can find more information here.

Conference Format and Participants

The conference will have a workshop-format. Its central purpose is to create a forum for serious discussion on a topic important to humanistic inquiry today. Papers will be pre-circulated and read before the conference, so that we can spend the majority of our time in discussion. The papers are available under the "Conference Papers" tab. The page is password protected. If you wish to participate in the conference, please contact Ryan Simonelli at who will give you access to the papers.

Conference Brochure

View and download the conference brochure here.


Sebastian Gardner (UC London): "Artistic Form and Post-Kantian Formalism"
Andrea Kern (Leipzig): "The World of Art"
Leo Lisi (Johns Hopkins): "Tragic Form in Ibsen"
Christian Martin (Munich): "Poetry as a Form of Knowledge"
Toril Moi (Duke): "Rethinking Literary History"
Daniel Morgan (Chicago): "The Lure of the Image"
Richard Neer (Chicago): "Wonders Taken for Signs"
Julia Peters (Tübingen): "Hegel's Notion of Spirit and the Indispensability of Art"
Rachel Zuckert (Northwestern): "Adaptive Naturalism in Herder's Aesthetics"

James Conant (Chicago)
Matthew Boyle (Chicago)
Frances Ferguson (Chicago)
Tom Gunning (Chicago)
Matthias Haase (Chicago)
Florian Klinger (Chicago)
Gabriel Richardson Lear (Chicago)
Mark Payne (Chicago)
Robert Pippin (Chicago)
Eric Santner (Chicago)
David Wellbery (Chicago)