European Association for Studies of Literature, Culture and the Environment

17th EASLCE Webinar: Transversal Aesthetics – Aesthetics Beyond the Human with Dr André Krebber

Transversal Aesthetics – Aesthetics Beyond the Human

Dr André Krebber, University of Kassel, Germany

Time and Date: 2 March 2021 – 5pm CET (Central European Time)

In geometry, a transversal is a line that intersects a system of parallel lines. Transversal aesthetics represents a new sensitivity in aesthetics towards the affective integration of aesthetics into processes of perception and cognition that explicitly expands aesthetics to the nonhuman world. Such an aesthetic is ‘transversal’ in a number of ways: aesthetic perception as an epistemic and communicative act of translation or tracing; the artistic production as a manifestation of such translation; a crossing of the relationship between art/aesthetics and science/epistemology; a transversal flattening of aesthetic hierarchies from the human to other entities, ecological as well as technological.

In this webinar we will discuss and interrelate two concrete dimensions where a transversal aesthetics might advance ecocritical perspectives:

Aesthetics as an anthropocentrism-critical experiential method of cognition
Nonhuman animals as aesthetic beings, or an aesthetics of ecological relations

Although transversal aesthetics is often traced back to Felix Guattari and Gilles Deleuze, we will instead consider Theodor W. Adorno’s aesthetic theory as an alternative potential starting point and discuss the ecocritical potentials of a transversal aesthetics at the example of a selection of cultural texts that engage with octopuses, penguins, and pigs.

Please be prepared to elaborate (in the form of a short verbal statement of about 2 minutes) how, based on the theoretical readings, you might see a transversal aesthetics playing out in the provided cultural texts (feel free to focus on just one example).

Required readings: (focus on the first two if you can’t read all)

Krebber, André (2020). Traces of the Other: Adorno on Natural Beauty. New German Critique 47 (2/140): 169–189. https://doi.org/10.1215/0094033X-8288181 (open access).

Prum, Richard O. (2018). Beauty from the Beast. In The Evolution of Beauty: How Darwin’s Forgotten Theory of Mate Choice Shapes the Animal World—and Us. New York: Anchor Books, 184–205.

Krebber, André, Maike Riedinger and Yvette Watt (2019). Aesthetics and Imagining the Octopus’s Mind. Animal Sentience 26(25) (2019): https://animalstudiesrepository.org/animsent/vol4/iss26/25/ (open access).
Please read the slightly longer version from my academia-page: https://www.academia.edu/41428106/Aesthetics_and_Imagining_the_Octopuss_Mind_Commentary_on_Mather_on_Octopus_Mind_

Lijster, Thijs (2015). Adorno on Mimesis: Irrationality or a Different Rationality? In Asmuth, C. & Neuffer, S. G. (eds.): Irrationalität. Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann, 157–168. (only section 5 is relevant, 129–133)

Cultural texts:

  1. Andrea Roe and Cath Keay (2018): CARNEVALE, collaborative art-science project exploring animal welfare questions and the enthusiasm of pigs for investigative play, accessible at: https://www.thelearnedpig.org/carnevale
    (please focus on the blog entries Pig Dreams Pig Life and Video: Pigs at Play)
  2. If you haven’t seen enough, a longer version of the video is available here:
  3. You can also check out an interview with Andrea Roe and Cath Keay if you like:
  4. “Alive in the Freezer” Diary from BBC TV-series Planet Earth, season 1, episode 6: “Ice Worlds”, minutes 3:05–4:45, available free in the UK at https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0085w76 and in somewhat poor quality at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tBn5xlzo8ZU
  5. Octopoda Methamorphosis (2018), Video installation / Video loop, 18:35 min, Concept/Performance/Editing: Anne Weyler, Camera: Victor Omenon Lloo (Govoi)
    More info at: www.khm.de/glasmoog_octopus-encounters_anneweyler/
    (Video will be made available to watch for the participants)

The key questions to discuss include:

  • What roles play aesthetics in the relationships and lives of human and nonhuman organisms?
  • What are the cognitive qualities of aesthetic processes of production and perception?
  • Can aesthetics help us to better understand the lives and being of nonhuman animals? And if so how?
  • In what ways can aesthetics counter the reification of nonhuman animals?

Photo: Jonathan Kemper

REGISTER HERE - Open for 10 participants!

EASLCE 17th Webinar: Transversal Aesthetics – Aesthetics Beyond the Human

Dr André Krebber, University of Kassel, Germany

Time and Date: 2 March 2021 – 5pm CET (Central European Time)

(Please note your time zone difference depending on where you are.)

Registration closed, thanks to all who registered! You can join the EASLCE and be notified when the next webinar is announced!