CFP: Cavell and Other Minds on Aesthetics and the Arts (New Deadline)

Submission deadline: April 30, 2023

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Cavell and Other Minds on Aesthetics the Arts

Thinking, Socrates once taught, is “the mind’s conversation with itself”. It is to Plato, who made him address such words to a pupil in the midst of conversation, that philosophy might owe its first notion of itself as a form of “thinking with others”. In one of Cavell's takes on this scene, he describes the teaching of later Wittgenstein, one of his own foremost mentors, as a continuous restaging of the lesson that "philosophy does not speak first". The lesson, in Cavell’s delivery, is not simply that philosophy speaks in the wake of what calls for it, but that awaking to the thoughts and sayings and doings of others forms the daily quintessence of its calling. Cavell’s career-long practice of this form of responsivity is now manifest not only in a singular body of interlocution whose correspondents range from Kierkegaard to Austin, Emerson and Thoreau to Heidegger and Derrida, but equally in the persistency of a voice whose unmistakable originality bespeaks the inexhaustible urgency of other voices, on call or yet unheard of. The current volume is an attempt at drawing on the conversational character of Cavellian thought as an approach to inheriting its legacy. We invite contributions that essay to explore both extant as well as potential lines of conversation between Cavell and other thinkers around topics chosen from or in relation to the vast gamut of Cavell’s work on aesthetics and the arts.

The choice of aesthetics as the overall topos for this book is motivated not only by the sheer place it occupies in Cavell’s writings, but equally — by its intimate relation to their conversational mode of philosophizing. Art and criticism embody, for Cavell, the irreducibly personal discursivity that philosophy itself is called to inhabit: “not to discount one’s subjectivity …  not to overcome it in agreement, but to master it in exemplary ways.” From as early as his first publications we find this recognition spelled out in such remarks as that “our modes of relating to artworks are ones we otherwise reserve only for other people.” Proving these modes to form, rather than merely parallel, our ways of being—hence of becoming—people, is what Cavell’s writings can be claimed to achieve by revealing conversation to form the underlying medium of cultured life. What he notes in this respect of “the risk in conversing about film”—that it stakes to be “revelatory of the conversations within film,” makes an equally fine statement of the philosophical impulse behind the entirety of his engagements with artistic media and discourse. 

It is with this notion of response and dialogue in mind that we invite authors from various disciplines with a shared interest in Cavell’s work and Cavellian  themes to offer their contributions to Cavell and Other Minds on Art and Aesthetics. With the hope of creating an integrating space for new and deepening forms of exchange, chapters will conform to a trilateral interlocutory format on the lines of “Cavell and X on Y” (where X and Y stand for a thinker and a subject of choice respectively). We welcome essays that offer original perspectives on classic affiliations of Cavellian philosophy (e.g., Cavell and Kant on Aesthetic JudgmentCavell and Shakespeare on Romantic LoveCavell and Heidegger on the World of the Work of ArtCavell and Emerson/Thoreau on Natural Beauty), as well as less or yet untried meet-ups (e.g., Cavell and Derrida on Writing, Cavell and Adorno on Musical Modernism, Cavell and Badiou on the Inherent Pornography of FilmCavell and Williams on Stella Dallas). We especially hope to include chapters that respond to Cavell’s philosophy from feminist perspectives (pioneered but hardly exhausted by Tania Modleski). It bears special emphasis that we consider the prospect of articulating disagreements in their various forms and intensities as of no less conversational – that is philosophical – value than the cultivation of congeniality and reconciliation. We hope that exploring Cavell’s legacy in these and other dialogical avenues, the chapters of the volume will prove to be realizing its unique theoretical productivity for the topics discussed.

Please send a long abstract (700-1000 words) and a short bio to [email protected] by 30.4.2023. The notifications of acceptance will be sent not later than May 17. We expect full papers to be submitted by the end of September, inviting the participants to partake in a symposium, dedicated to the volume’s ideas, in Warsaw University (under the auspices of the Center for Liberal Arts, Aesthetic Education, and the Environment gGmbH) around the same time. We will then begin the process of review and publication.

Dr. Alma Itzhaky (Leibniz-Zentrum für Literatur- und Kulturforschung, Berlin)

Dr. Pioter Shmugliakov (Freie Universtität Berlin)

Dr. Johnathan Soen (University of Potsdam)

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