Art Studies in an Expanded Field

Call for Papers:

Art Studies in an Expanded Field

(Ausweitung der Kunstwissenschaftszone)

University of Copenhagen, November 7th to 9th 2007

This seminar aims at exploring a contemporary trend in art studies: the expansion by inclusion of non-aesthetic fields of study. Today, students of aesthetic phenomena do not stay within the confines of their specific discipline but frequently and fruitfully transgress borders between faculties. Political science, history, sociology, law, ethics, psychology, philosophy and science tend to play an increasingly important role in art studies. The focus on interart studies contributes to this development towards an interdisciplinary and even inter-facultary mode of cultural studies.

The assets of this expansion are apparent. On the one hand, it enables art studies to understand the function of art in non-aesthetic contexts already described carefully by historians, sociologist, political theorists, and so on. On the other hand, the study of aesthetic works and processes contribute to the existing descriptions of social reality.

The threats, however, are equally apparent. On the one hand, expanded art studies risk turning the singular work of art into a mere example of theories imported from non-aesthetic fields of study. On the other hand, art studies risk reducing the other fields of study into mere Hilfswissenschaften, subsidiary sciences.

A fruitful interdisciplinary expansion of art studies demands collaboration between equals. This seminar will examine how such collaboration between academic disciplines can be made possible, how the identification of interdisciplinary problems and fields of study opens possibilities for exchange and inspiration, and how the encounter between radically different scientific methodologies and theories can be handled. We hope to encourage papers and presentations on specific expansions of art studies – into law, political science, sociology of religion, natural science, and so on. The specific cases will function as points of departure for a general theoretical discussion of an interdisciplinary mode of cultural studies. Among the topics that may be considered are: How can art study combine analysis of aesthetic form with non-aesthetic theories? How do art studies deal with rivalling descriptions of aesthetic phenomena (neuro-sciences, economy, sociology, etc)? How should art studies handle the theoretical knowledge of an artist? How does the expansion of the field change the way that art studies present their insights? What do art studies have that other fields of study lack?


Registration: Kirsten Zeuthen,, by October 5th 2007.


Please include

* title of proposed paper

* abstract (no more than 300 words)

* brief description of research project/interests

* contact information (email, telephone and postal address)

The seminar is a co-operation between The Copenhagen Doctoral School and Internationales Graduiertenkolleg InterArt / Interart Studies, Freie Universität Berlin. It is organized by Frederik Tygstrup, Markus Rautzenberg and Isak Winkel Holm.