Aestheticism Now! (ACLA Chicago Seminar)
To whom does aestheticism belong? Traditionally critiqued as an outgrowth of western bourgeois culture, aestheticism, with its assorted attributes (including aesthetic detachment, disinterestedness, and autonomy) seems ill equipped to respond to our contemporary concerns with marginalization, power imbalances, and the reproduction of hegemonic structures. And yet, the commitment to aesthetic detachment continues to pop up in seemingly unlikely places—in various corners of postcolonial literary production and in the writings of political exiles and Holocaust survivors. We therefore ask to whom aestheticism belongs today, who makes use of it, to what ends, and under what circumstances?