Politics of Taste
ESSCS SUMMER SCHOOL 2015
7-13 September 2015
Ecole Doctorale Esthétique et Théorie des Arts
Université Paris VIII
2 rue de la Liberté
93 526 SAINT DENIS cedex
POLITICS OF TASTE
Western philosophy, being faithful to language, traditionally conceives of “taste” as the intertwining between the (dis)pleasure of the senses as it is experienced individually by each body and the supposed harmony between the sensitivities of everyone. Taste thus has different components: the singularity of everyone’s pleasure (sensation), the discernment that permits the communication of this pleasure to someone else (perception) and the aesthetic criteria accepted by many (norms). All these components allow taste to be considered as a fact of communication: it is one of the most concrete forms of mediation between my self and the other.
In spite the fact that the notion of taste seems obsolete, it is possible to say that taste has never been as decisive as in contemporary societies. It is both fuelling consumerism and producing identities through social networks – identities that organize new forms of human association, independently of the distinction between public and private.
More than ever, taste is at the core of economical, media and, more widely, social warfare. Manifestations of this can be observed in the development of technologies of sensation-control, the experience economy and the management or empowerment of subjectivities. Sensitivity becomes a target of power as it appears in the anaesthesia produced through these devices, as well as, inversely, in the hyperaesthesia of consciousnesses deprived of all judgement. In this context, knowing what I sense and perceive, as well as what we sense and perceive, is an essential resort for critical reflection.
Today, the question of taste belongs not only to aesthetics but also to anthropology and politics. In order to open up and to specify the issue of taste today, the ESSCS Summer School seeks to address different issues, including but not limited to:
1) Taste as a sense: the somatic foundation of the sense of taste; taste and memory; the repression of taste as a sense; the representation of taste as a sense in cultural productions
2) Taste, perception, mediation: neuro-aesthetic research into aesthetical behaviours; forgotten senses; phenomenological investigations of bodily dispositions and affects; the rule of media in art production and reception; the semantics of taste
3) Taste and appetite: consumption, perception, need; lack and desire; excess and new forms of puritanism; pathologies and perversions of taste
4) Taste and norms: taste and imitation; disgust and bad taste; the social history of taste; institutions of taste; globalisation of taste
5) Judgement of taste: proclivity; sensus communis; judgement and gesture; taste and resistance; censorship; the education of taste; the redefinition of art practices based on the concept of reception; “relation” and environment
Candidates for the Summer School are invited to submit a proposal (max. 300 words) with a short biographical note (up to 150 words) to Summerschool.email@example.com by 4 April 2015. Those selected to participate will be asked to provide a 3000-word paper (excluding bibliography) by 1 July 2015, which will be distributed among the participants in advance of the Summer School. In order to allow for a sufficient amount of discussion time during the Summer School, papers will not be read. Instead, participants will be asked to read the papers from their allotted panels in advance. During the Summer School, participants will be given 10 minutes to provide a short pitch of their argument or to respond to other panellists’ papers. Discussion will take place on the basis of the written papers and the short presentations. To make this format work, it is essential that the abovementioned deadlines are strictly adhered to.