literary works of art

1. What, if anything, essentially distinguishes literary works of art (such as epics, novels, drama, and poetry) from other kinds of writings, such as scientific reports, historical treatises, religious texts, guides, and manuals, which may happen to be written in a literary manner? 2. In his “Is Live Music Dead?” Lee R. Brown argues that recorded music functions as a “token” (i.e. an instance) of a larger “type” (i.e. musical performance) but recordings may someday “override this subtlety by treating all music sources as fodder to mix and match, without regard to their original status or the niceties of the process by which they were originally created.” Do you agree with Brown’s assessment? 3. Roger Scruton argues that representation is necessarily intentional (as in a painting or sculpture) whereas “photography is not representation”. Further, Scruton maintains that photography cannot create representations. Do you agree with Scruton? Why or why not? 4. Clive Bell famously argues that what makes an item a work of art is its “significant form”, by which he means “forms arranged and combined according to certain unknown and mysterious laws”. Do you agree that significant form is the “essential quality in a work of art”? 5. Linda Nochlin argues that “genius” is not some inherent trait that male artists possess but women lack; rather, the “little golden nugget” of genius is something that is “built up minutely…from infancy onward, although the patterns of adaptation-accommodation may be established so early within the subject-in-an-environment that they may indeed appear to be innate to the unsophisticated observer” Are there any other obstacles to women’s becoming great artists, beyond their having been (largely) denied the opportunities to develop their talents? How can women artists overcome these obstacles? 6. In his “The Aesthetics of Junkyards” San Jose State University philosophy professor Thomas Leddy argues that, contrary to appearances, it is possible discern aesthetic qualities in a junkyard, and further, that such an admiration need not be “anti-environmentalist” in nature. Is it possible to have an ethical aesthetic appreciation of a junkyard or landfill? 7. In her “Why (Not) Philosophy of Stand-Up Comedy?” Sheila Lintott argues that whereas “in tragedy the audience experiences negative emotion pleasurably, in stand-up comedy often the content is tragic but the audience experiences the positive pleasure of humorous amusement.” As Lintott herself asks, “How do form and content relate in these two cases?” 8. In his “Can White People Sing the Blues”, Joel Rudinow quotes jazz critic Ralph J. Gleason who argued, “[T]he blues is black man’s music, and whites diminish it at best or steal it at worst. In any case they have no moral right to use it…” Do you agree with Gleason’s assessment? Why or why not? 9. ‘Aesthetic Cognitivism’ is the view that art offers humanity another means of accessing reality. This view runs counter to scientific claims (particularly those of physicists) who contend that the natural sciences provide the only “accurate” picture of reality. The aesthetic cognitivists counter that art provides significant insights into ethics and human psychology. With whom do you agree and why?

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