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Previous Research Programme: Contemporary Aesthetic Theory

Description of the Programme
Research Projects
PhD Projects



Contemporary Aesthetic Theory:
Current Functional Transformations of the Aesthetic

Current Functional Transformations of the Aesthetic is the title of a five-year research program ( 1993-98) started by the Danish Council for Research in the Humanities within the target area of research Contemporary Aesthetic Theory, following a proposal by an interdisciplinary research group primarily affiliated to the University of Aarhus. The project is directed by Professor Morten Kyndrup, dr.phil., University of Aarhus. Each semester the project has a seminar on aesthetics (6-10 sessions), æstetisk Seminar, which invites Danish and international scholars (including ones from the project) to deliver public lectures. In addition, the program arranges large conferences on a variety of themes. The program is responsible for the publication of Aestetikstudier (Studies in Aesthetics), the chief editor of which is the program director, and which currently contains four published and three scheduled titles (see below).

This project is based on the hypothesis that fundamental transformations have been taking place in the function and status of the aesthetic in the last half of the 20th century; that is, both in a limited sense, in connection with art and the different art forms, and more broadly, in connection with culture and society. Modernity's characteristic differentiation into autonomous areas is undergoing a fundamental transformation. There seems to be a transformation away from objectual differentiation of the aesthetic (i.e. that certain objects possess aesthetic quality) towards what might be called affectual differentiation (i.e. the aesthetic quality of objects and events is increasingly conceived as locally dependent on their aesthetic effects). This turns the aesthetic into something fundamentally transitory, now seemingly able to embrace completely new areas and phenomena. This transformation from "being" to "becoming" seems to be true for the aesthetic in general. But not only can it be read in the conception and the effects, it can also be pointed out in the works of art themselves, which seem to be undergoing a verticalization; that is, in their very construction as artifacts they contain still greater explicit attention to the question of effect and their own way of producing this effect.

This program is not of a philosophico-aesthetic turn, nor has it ever been conceived generally or deductively. The basic hypothesis is precisely a framework and the framework comprehends inductively oriented examinations within single art forms and specific artistic problems. Most of the researchers in the program are specialists within single art forms: comparative and national literatures, theatre and dramaturgy, musicology (classical as well as rhythmic), cinema, painting, architecture, photography. Each researcher has his or her individual project, through which each of them exposes the framework through their results.

The Danish Council for Research in the Humanities has contributed to the program with approx. 8 million DKK.With departmental contributions and other funds the program has a total capital of more than 11 million DKK.This covers the employment of a large number of researchers for various periods of time (from six months to five years), among these 9 senior researchers, 6 research fellows, and 7 Ph.D. stipendiaries. Research Projects

Contemporary Aesthetic Theory
Morten Kyndrup, professor at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Aesthetics, AU

Contemporary Aesthetic Theory: from Quantitative Differences to Qualitative Differences
Carsten Madsen, PhD, associate professor at the Department of Scandinavian Studies, AU

Culturalization, Aestheticization and Quality
Henrik Kaare Nielsen, dr. phil, associate professor at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Aesthetics, AU

Discourse and Design in a Radically Modernized Society
Niels Albertsen, cand.scient.pol., associate professor at the School of Architecture, Aarhus

Performance and Force
Niels Lehmann, lic. phil., associate professor at the Department of Dramaturgy, AU

The City as Filmic Scenography
Anders Troelsen, mag.art., associate professor at the Department of Art History, AU

Foundational Crisis in the Visual Arts
Carsten Juhl, cand.mag., associate professor at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts

Between Being and Meaning - the Aesthetics and Meaning of the Singing Voice in the Perspectives of Linguistic Philosophy and Cultural Theory
Ansa Lønstrup, cand.mag., associate professor at the Departments of Music and the Centre for Interdisciplinary Aesthetics.

The Cultural Space of the Genres of Criticism
Marianne Ping Huang, PhD, associate professor at the Department of Comparative Literature, AU

Visual Aesthetics: Time and Movement in the Film Media 1940-95
Bodil Marie Thomsen, PhD, associate professor at the Department of Scandinavian Studies, AU


PhD Projects

The Sampled Generation
Karin Petersen, research fellow at the Department of Music Studies, AU.

Eskimo Images
Erik Gant, University of Copenhagen.

Pragmatizations of the Aesthetic and Culture
Lene Tortzen, PhD, assistant professor at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Aesthetics, AU

Limits to the Aesthetic: the Artist, Criticism and the Work
Jan Bäcklund, PhD, research fellow at the Centre for Cultural Research

The Bildungsroman. Goethe and Bruce Chatwin
Birgit Eriksson, PhD, assistant professor at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Aesthetics, AU

After Photography
Lars Kiel Bertelsen, PhD, assistant professor at the Department of Art History.


Updated 7 December 2000 by smc. Please mail comments to the web editor at Centre for Cultural Research.