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.

Aesthetics Work Group Blog

Welcome to the AWG blog. The Aesthetics Work Group is an interdisciplinary group of professors and students who meet periodically to discuss theoretical works about and in the arts. The work is often (usually) works in progress by members of AWG, but we also read current articles and books that are relevant to the interests of the group. AWG has also co-sponsored visits by distinguished scholars from other institutions. Topics in the past have included participatory art (visiting faculty), aesthetic disobedience (faculty), the politics of form in Tibetan poetry (student), cover records as social commentary (visiting faculty), metaphor and metaphysics in Zhuangzi (student), ethical and emotional expression in music (faculty), environmental aesthetics (visiting faculty), and the transgender gaze in film (faculty). It is led by Jonathan Neufeld in the philosophy department and is regularly attended by students and faculty from German, English, Religious Studies, Music, Art, Art History, Political Science, and Psychology.

Spring Term 2013

I will post meetings and events of potential group interest here. I have proposed that we have our first meeting of Spring 2013 on either Tuesday 2/5 at 3:15PM or Wednesday, 2/6 at 5PM. Please let me know which works better for you.

I wish I could edit the font in the blog header. Alas, we are stuck with serifs, for now.