Aesthetic Heteronomy: Beyond Autonomy in British and German Eighteenth-century Tradition

Mattias Pirholt's picture
Call for Publications
December 1, 2017
Subject Fields: 
British History / Studies, German History / Studies, Intellectual History, Literature, Philosophy

The eighteenth century is traditionally regarded as the grand siècle of modern aesthetic autonomy. A longstanding diachronic narrative holds that such autonomy originated in early British eighteenth-century theories on disinterestedness and was subsequently realized by the German Romantics. This anthology aims to reassess the validity of such a narrative by mapping the intellectual topography of the aesthetic heteronomy that distinguished British and German eighteenth-century discourse on aesthetic concepts. The contributions in the anthology are transdisciplinary in their focus on how European philosophers and critics inscribed the aesthetic experience of works of art and nature in discourses on political society and natural science. The anthology is divided into three intersecting parts:

  • Part I explores the role of the third Earl of Shaftesbury and other British men of letters (e.g. Addison, Hutcheson, and Dennis) in their ambition to incorporate ethico-theological ideas on disinterestedness and works of art as organic wholes, in an ongoing debate about modern political society.
  • Part II addresses the impact of early eighteenth-century British thought on German Aufklärung and Neoclassicism (e.g. Baumgarten, Winckelmann, Kant, and Goethe), and the wish to pursue and alter the British legacy by introducing scientific, ethical, and pedagogical conceptions of the relation between man and organic nature.
  • Part III examines the Romantic and Idealist effort (e.g. Hölderlin, Friedrich Schlegel, Schelling, Hegel, Wordsworth, and Coleridge) to develop the analogy between aesthetic concepts and organism into a new model of ideal society by criticizing a mechanistic conception of nature in natural science.

The anthology is part of the major ongoing research project Reassessing the Rise of Aesthetics. Aesthetic Heteronomy from Shaftesbury to Schelling, funded by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond (RJ), between 2017 and 2020. The project is administered by Södertörn University in Stockholm. The aim is to have the anthology published by an international university/academic press during 2019. The anthology targets undergraduates, postgraduates, academics, and advanced researchers studying British and German eighteenth-century aesthetics, philosophy, literature, music, and art. It is also written to appeal to anyone with a more general interest in the ‘Long Eighteenth Century’ and to worldwide societies for eighteenth-century studies. Current research on the rise of aesthetics in the eighteenth century is undergoing major revisions. While this anthology is intended to contribute to the ongoing re-evaluation of the birth of modern aesthetics, it also aims to fill a particular gap by bringing aesthetics into dialogue with eighteenth-century philosophy, natural science, and literature.

Submissions should be no longer than 7,500 words. Abstracts should be no longer than 150 words. Abstracts are due by 1 December, 2017. Please send your abstract (as a Word document) and CV to the following email address:

For further information about the research project, please visit:

The volume is edited by

Mattias Pirholt, Associate Professor, School of Culture and Education, Södertörn University

Karl Axelsson, PhD, School of Culture and Education, Södertörn University

Camilla Flodin, PhD, Department of Gender Studies, Uppsala University

Contact Info: 

Mattias Pirholt, School of Culture and Education, Södertörn University, Stockholm, Sweden

Contact Email: