Art and the Mind: Neuroaesthetics, Phenomenology, and the Experience of Vision
15th Annual Art History Graduate Student Symposium
University of Southern California
February 19, 2012

The graduate students in art history at USC are pleased to invite submissions for the annual symposium, which will take place at USC in Los Angeles on Sunday, February 19, 2012 (Please note that the annual conference of the College Art Association commences three days later in the same city). Graduate students will give twenty-minute paper presentations and participate in a panel discussion.

Neuroaesthetics and Neuroarthistory are hotly debated terms, considered by some to be art history’s newest methodology. Others have turned to phenomenology to draw out the affective power of artworks. This conference proposes an understanding of the work of art primarily through the experience of vision and cognition, an endeavor that began with Michael Baxandall’s “Period Eye.” How does the viewer encounter the work? What changes when such an encounter is prolonged? Does neuroscience alter aesthetic experience? Can “beauty” be quantified and measured? Can Kant’s universal principles of aesthetic experience be understood through neurobiology?

Keynote Speakers:
David Freedberg, Pierre Matisse Professor of the History of Art, Columbia University, Director of the Italian Academy for Advanced Studies in America
Antonio Damasio, David Dornsife Professor of Neuroscience, University of Southern California, Director of the Brain and Creativity Institute

We welcome topics from all time periods and global regions. Papers may address the encounter with art, take up neuroaesthetics as a methodology, or historicize the confluence of science and aesthetics. Interested participants should submit a CV and abstract of no more than 500 words to by November 28, 2011. Successful applicants will be notified by December 12th.