CFP: GSA Seminar: The Duty of Art: Ethics & Empathy in Aesthetic Theory (October 3-6, 2019, Deadline: January 26, 2019)

Carolin Rocks's picture
Call for Papers
January 26, 2019
Subject Fields: 
Art, Art History & Visual Studies

By arguing that we should attend to art’s responsibilities toward society, politics, ecology, and economics, this seminar advances a paradigm shift and contributes to debates on posthumanist ethics. In the last fifty years, aesthetics has dealt almost exclusively with the autonomy of art; indeed, it has even propagated a developmental history in which heteronomous aesthetics inescapably leads to autonomous aesthetics. On the one hand, we want to explore an alternative history of 18th- to 21st-century aesthetic theory in which ethics and empathy play a central role. On the other, we want to analyze scenes, images, and narratives in which ethical and empathic acting can be observed. Due to their related practices, ethics and empathy are key to describing aesthetic discourse in a complex way. Such approaches to heteronomous aesthetics do not imply that art is simply committed to moral didacticism but rather regard life as art’s measuring stick.

The seminar is based on discussions of pre-circulated papers by the participants (max 20,000 characters incl. spaces) that will be pre-circulated 4 weeks before the conference and five-minute presentations. We welcome up to six auditors, as well. 

Using an online platform with various tools, we will distribute a small corpus of theoretical texts that will serve as the basis for precirculated papers and for the discussions at the conference. The participants are encouraged to suggest relevant theoretical texts for consideration, as well. 

Please submit a short bio (up to 100 words) and an abstract of your contribution or your interest in the topic (up to 500 words). Seminar enrollment opens on January 5, 2019, and applications are due by January 26, 2019. Please submit your application directly at the GSA site: at For more information see also:

We are happy to answer any questions you may have:


Prof. Dr. Frauke Berndt (

University of Zurich, Department of German Studies


Prof. Fritz Breithaupt (

Indiana University Bloomington, Department of Germanic Studies


Dr. Carolin Rocks (

University of Zurich, Department of German Studies