Dr. Cynthia Freeland, University of Houston

Seminar in Philosophy of Art

Spring 2003


Negative Aesthetics


The seminar will deal with a variety of aesthetic phenomena involving negative or painful experiences. We will read philosophical texts from various time periods that have attempted to explain the reasons for our interest in such phenomena. Topics will include tragedy (and Aristotleís Poetics), the sublime (as treated by Burke and Kant), horror (as discussed by Noel Carroll and Cynthia Freeland), and disgust (treated by Carolyn Korsmeyer in relation to recent visual and performance art). Students will be expected to do an oral report and research paper focusing on one of these phenomena.


Proposed Schedule


Jan 16Introduction; Ancient Greek tragedy

Jan 23Poetics/Tragedy/Plot and Character; Readings: Aristotle, Freeland

Jan 30Poetics/Tragedy/Pity and Fear; Readings: Nehamas

Feb 6†† Poetics/Tragedy/Katharsis Reading:Lear, Curran


††††††††††† Bibliography on the Poetics:



Feb 13The Sublime: Burke

Feb 20The Sublime: Kant

Feb 27The Sublime: Kant

Bibliography on the Sublime:




Mar 13 No Class; Prof. Freeland out of town


Bibliography on Horror:


Mar. 20 Horror/Carroll/Paradox of fiction (Walton)

Mar 27Horror/Carroll

April 3Horror/Solomon

April 10Horror/Freeland/Others


April 17Disgust/Korsmeyer

April 24Disgust/Korsmeyer; Devereaux, The Ugly

May 1 (if agreeable as make-up day) Disgust/Conclusions