Aesthetics and the Human

Humanist pedagogy often takes as one of its premises an unshakeable belief in human educability, and in the humanizing and critical potential of an aesthetic education. Yet even today we often have little sense of how aesthetic discourses and aesthetic education relate to (and, at times, resist) the pedagogical techniques of humanism, or of the implicit theories of humankind and human educability that subtend early to late modern aesthetic theory. What happened to the techniques of aesthetic education between Erasmus and Schiller, between the aesthetic pedagogy of Renaissance humanism and the 18th-century revolution in aesthetic theory inaugurated by Schiller and Kant?

Half a century ago M.H. Abrams famously sought to explore the historical and epistemic break separating the early modern humanist aesthetics of mimesis and imitation from the 18th-century (or Romantic) aesthetic discourse of the sublime and the beautiful, the advent of aesthetic modernity, yet his account only raised far more questions regarding the relation between aesthetics and humanism. This group seeks to explore the long under-theorized yet ubiquitous relation between humanism and aesthetics through revisiting and reading aslant pioneering works in aesthetic theory and critical pedagogy.

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