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From the 1970s to the early-1990s, the discourse surrounding aesthetics largely disappeared from the study of art history, theory and cultural studies. Claims for the aesthetic value of art-works were thought of as elitist and politically regressive. The 1990s witnessed a return to aesthetics, but one that stressed the independent claims of beauty, in reaction to its perceived suppression by ethical and political imperatives. However, beauty is just one aspect of the aesthetic. In recent years, increasing attention has been given to the ways in which aesthetics and ethics are intertwined. In a series of paired essays and responses, a group of the English-speaking world's most distinguished thinkers consider this 'new' aesthetics, demonstrating its cross-disciplinary relevance in terms accessible to a non-specialist readership.
Diarmuid Costello is Senior Lecturer in Art Theory at Oxford Brookes University. Dominic Willsdon is Curator of Interpretation and Education at Tate Modern. WJT Mitchell, Gaylord Donnelley Distinguished Service Professor of English and Art History, Committee on Art & Design at the University of Chicago. Griselda Pollock, Professor of Social and Critical Histories of Art, University of Leeds and Director of the AHRB CentreCATH. Noel Carroll, Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Humanities and Professor of Philosophy at Temple University. Adrian Piper, Conceptual artist and Professor of Philosophy, Wellesley College. Jay M. Bernstein, University Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the New School University, NYC. Judith Butler, Maxine Elliot Professor of Rhetoric and Comparative Literature, University of California, Berkeley. Thierry de Duve, Professor of Art History at the University of Lille. Howard Caygill, Professor of Cultural History, Goldsmiths, University of London.