Political Aesthetics


Location: Snite Museum of Art, Annenberg Auditorium

Crispin Sartwell, professor of philosophy and art history, Dickinson College; cultural theorist and art historian/philosopher

Sartwell will be discussing his recently published work, Political Aesthetics, in addition to holding a slideshow presentation. Through historical, cultural, and philosophical analysis, Sartwell deftly addresses a series of contemporary issues that arise at the often-problematic intersection of art and politics: Can we regard the Nazi propaganda films of Leni Riefenstahl as aesthetically beautiful? How are the films of Charlie Chaplin political? What is the political significance of punk music or rap music? How can an architectural style reinforce a national ideology?

Sartwell has taught philosophy, communication, and political science at a number of schools, including Vanderbilt University, The University of Alabama, Penn State, and The Maryland Institute College of Art. He is also a noted journalist and music critic. He received is Ph.D. from the University of Virginia, where he studied with Richard Rorty. Sartwell’s syndicated column, distributed by Creators Syndicate, appeared in numerous newspapers through the 1990s and 2000s, including The Philadelphia Inquirer and Los Angeles Times. He is the author of such books as Obscenity, Anarchy, Reality, and Six Names of Beauty. A self-described anarchist, in 2008 he published Against the State: An Introduction to Anarchist Political Theory.

For graduate students interested in participating in a workshop discussion with Professor Sartwell earlier that day, please contact Jay Miller at A limited number of copies are available of Sartwell’s book for those wishing to attend the discussion.

This event is free and open to the public.