AWG Events List


For regular updates, please visit AWG’s Facebook page. Here is a list of AWG events since the group was founded in 2011 (for details, look here):



  • “Lisa Sanditz and the Suburban Sublime,” Jennifer Baker (Philosophy, CofC)
  • Public Lecture, “Cover Records as Social Commentary,” Ted Gracyk (Philosophy, MN State, Moorhead)
  • “Why Birds Don’t Make Music,” Ted Gracyk (Philosophy, MN State, Moorhead)
  • Public Lecture, “Participatory Art,” Michael Kelly (Philosophy, UNC, Charlotte)
  • “Participatory Art and Aesthetics,” (AWG meeting) Michael Kelly (Philosophy, UNC, Charlotte)
  • “The Transgender Gaze in Film,” Richard Nunan (Philosophy, CofC ),
  • Discussion of  “Living Takes Many Forms,” by Shannon Jackson and “Microutopias: Public Practice in the Public Sphere,” by Carol Becker
  • Discussion of “Living as Form,” by Nato Thompson and “Eventwork: The Fourfold Matrix of Contemporary Social Movements,” by Brian Holmes.
  • “Participation as Spectacle: Where Are We Now?” by Claire Bishop and “Democratizing Urbanization and the Search for a New Civic Imagination,”  by Teddy Cruz


  • “Metaphor and Metaphysics in Zhuangzi,Tyler Ray (Philosophy and Religious Studies student, CofC)
  • Public Lecture, “The Norms of Nature Appreciation,” Glenn Parsons (Philosophy, Ryerson University, Toronto)
  • Discussion of “Interaction and Nature Appreciation,” by Robert Stecker.
  • “Tibetan Poetry in Exile,” Amberjade Mwekali (Philosophy student, CofC )
  • “Emotional and Ethical Expression in Music,” Jonathan Neufeld (Philosophy, CofC)

AWG featured in campus news

Posted on 25 November 2013 | 8:39 am

College of Charleston students are debating their professors and reviewing books and articles on some of the most popular and heated topics in their field. It is happening in reading or work groups, which are very common at universities, but most are open only to professors and/or graduate students.

“It really is a very unique opportunity the College offers,” says Todd Grantham, professor and chair of the philosophy department. “Involving undergraduates in these discussions not only develops the relationship between students and professors, but helps prepare students for the discussions they will participate in after they graduate.”

[RelatedLearn about careers in philosophy.]

The Department of Philosophy hosts a very active interdisciplinary group, called the Aesthetics Work Group. They meet several times a month to discuss theoretical works about and in the arts. Topics in the past have ranged from participatory art to the “suburban sublime” and Tibetan poetry.

Philosophy Professor Jonathan Neufeld, group moderator says, “A few weeks ago a student gave a presentation and the discussion was of such high quality, and so lively, that it was easy to forget that these weren’t grad students.” One of my colleagues remarked, “I figured it must be your group when I heard, through the closed door, people talking so animatedly about ontology.”

[Related: Find more topics on the Aesthetics Work Group blog.]

Typically this group reads works in progress from participants – both students and professors. But, they have also had professors from other universities present works and plan to have professors from Utah Valley State, UC Davis School of Law, and Columbia University join via Skype to discuss their works.

Readings are distributed a couple of weeks in advance by the person who will lead the discussion, usually the author of the readings. When the group meets, the author gives a quick background on the paper, then the group begins asking questions and discussion usually lasts for about an hour and a half.

“Even though it is a philosophical group, we have regular participants from many departments,” Neufeld explains. “German Professor Morgan Koerner presented a paper to AWG and said that he received extremely helpful feedback that prepared him well for the national meeting of the German Studies Association that he attended shortly after.”

For more information about the Aesthetics Work Group, contact Jonathan Neufeld at

AWG Meeting 11/15: Thi Nguyen

Professor Thi Nguyen, from Utah Valley State, will discuss his work, “Games, Striving and the Topology of Choice,” on the nature of games (video games, board games, card games, sports). “This is my claim: games are a form of landscape. They’re a constructed space, designed to support and enhance human choice. This isn’t the gospel truth, or even complete story, but I offer it in the spirit of a productive metaphor. And I offer it because I think that the prevailing metaphor – that games are a form of text – is missing something.”

Rabon Presentation on Social Ontology and Art

We had a boisterous  discussion of ontology and art on Thursday, September 19. Matt Rabon’s (3rd year philosophy major)  account of ontology was provocative and got a lot of us talking and jumping in. Professor Hettinger’s “Hat-rack David” example was particularly fruitful (Michelangelo’s David used as a hat-rack–for very large-headed people, pointed out Prof Nadelhoffer–instead of a work of art). Discussion touched on Michelangelo, Beethoven, Cage’s 4’33”, Jeff Mangum, and the different versions of Nirvana’s In Utero. A pen was (temporarily) transfigured into a work of art (documentation by Prof Koerner can be seen on AWG’s Facebook page), though authorship was contested as was the possibility of the temporariness of the transformation.

9/5/13 Meeting: Affect and Performance

Our first meeting will be led by Morgan Koerner of the German Department at C of C. He will be discussing the philosophical background of his position paper, “Affect in German Theater after the Performative Turn: Elfriede Jelinek’s Theater Texts in Performance.” We will read the position paper (it’s very short—4 pages), and the Introduction of Altieri’s The Particulars of Rapture: An Aesthetic of the Affects. Professor Koerner or I will send these readings along shortly. We will also take a look at a few video examples of productions of Jelinek’s work. The topic is connected to last year’s discussion of authenticity in performance and raises new topics on the role of the affects in artistic production, appreciation, and performance.

“Die Kontrakte des Kaufmanns” von Elfriede Jelinek – inszeniert von Nicolas Stemann

2/22 AWG Meeting: Davies on Authenticity

After a rousing meeting on Davies’s first two chapters (who knew ontology was so invigorating?), let’s do a bit on Authenticity in Music from Davies. I will summarize the bits of chapter 3 that are relevant for chapter 4, so you only need to read 4. But, of course, those interested should feel free to read 3. We will also give a quick snapshot of Ch’s 1 and 2 for those who couldn’t make it last time.
After we finish Davies, we’ll do something a little less analytic and abstract. I’m open to suggestions, if people are interested in anything in particular–I was thinking it might be interesting to do a screening of something (of an opera, a film, whatever) at some point, if there was interest. Professor Koerner will be giving us something on affect later in the term.

2/14 Roundtable: “Narrative, Ethics, and The Lives of Animals”

Roundtable discussion with Jonathan Neufeld (Philosophy), Simon Lewis (English), and Ornaith O’Dowd (Philosophy)

In 1997, J. M. Coetzee’s delivered the Tanner Lectures on Human Values that would become his novella The Lives of Animals. Typically, the Tanner lectures are philosophical essays presenting arguments on specific ethical or political problems or concepts. Instead of presenting the usual set of arguments, Coetzee delivered two lectures that were two chapters from a novella. The novella’s central character, Elizabeth Costello, herself delivers two lectures on humans’ mistreatment animals (to put it mildly). While she presents arguments and counterarguments, as do other characters in the story, these arguments do not simply stand as arguments—they are also, of course, literary devices that constitute the book as the work of art that it is. Is Coetzee really just making an argument, and just adding color to it with the story? Or does the fact that it is a piece of literature change the status of the arguments in it? Why might we make certain kinds of ethical claims in artistic form rather than in some other form (the form of philosophical argument typically found in the Tanner Lectures, for example)? Is there something about talking about the lives of animals, in particular, that calls for a literary, rather than a philosophical response?

February 14, 12:15-1:30PM Alumni Center in the School of EHHP

Narrative Ethics & The Lives of Animals-page-001Narrative Ethics & The Lives of Animals(pdf flier)

Tongues Aflame Poetry Series at the Halsey

This is nicely appropriate to our discussion of performance and the relationship between the arts (and just interesting on its own):

The Halsey Institute will be hosting a series of poetry readings during the January to March 2013 exhibition, Lesley Dill’s Poetic Visions: From Shimmer to Sister Gertrude Morgan. The Tongues Aflame poetry series is design to be a response to Dill’s fusion of language and image. All readings are free and open to the public. They will begin at 7:00pm and take place in the Halsey Institute galleries. A reception will follow each reading.

Co-sponsored by the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, the College of Charleston’s Department of EnglishPoetry Society of South Carolina and Crazyhorse.

Thursday, February 7 | Poetry Society of South Carolina Members 
Richard Garcia, Kit Loney, Susan Finch Stevens, Marjory Wentworth, and Katherine Williams
Thursday, February 14 | College of Charleston Students 
Alexandra Daley, AJ Johnson, Avis Norfleet, Anthony Pugliese, and Madeline Thieringer
Tuesday, February 19
Ted Pope
Thursday, February 21 | National Celebrated Poets 
Samual Amadon, Emily Rosko, and Jillian Weise