PHIL 331/FINE 338 - "Philosophy of Art"

Artwork depicting three human figures

Course Description

This course will help you to see art – and philosophical questions about art – as living and urgent, not as outdated things that you only find in museums and textbooks. We’ll start the course by considering radical political questions about the role that art can play in oppressing or in liberating people. We will visit Indigenous art shows and think about what it means to produce Indigenous art in a settler-colonial society.  We will also survey classic conceptions about aesthetics, and a range of views about what art is and what makes it different from other kinds of human products. We will talk to a computer scientist to try to figure out whether non-humans, like bots and AIs, can produce art. We will hear from an art historian turned social media expert about some of the things that “great art” and viral memes have in common. This is a cross-listed course, and it is designed to help you develop your capacities in both Philosophy and Fine Art. You will read, discuss and write about philosophy. But you will also attend to and appreciate a range of artworks, and will develop your skills as curators and art critics.

Course Readings

Readings will be available for free on Learn. Readings will include various media from such figures as Frantz Fanon, Aristotle, Kent Monkman, and Hannah Gadsby.

Course Assignments

- Assorted short writing assignments (from one sentence to three pages)
- "Curator for a day" blog project
- Longer assignment - either an essay or a curatorial project (student's choice)