Concepts of Aesthetic Form Conference, Jan. 13-15


A conference of The Idealism Project: 
Self-Determining Form and the Autonomy of the Humanities

January 13-15, 2017
Neubauer Collegium
5701 S. Woodlawn Ave.

This three-day conference is devoted to the concept of form in humanistic inquiry. It is especially interested in the kind of formal generality at issue in humanistic disciplines, and the differences between such formality and, for example, the concept of scientific law. Our approach is exploratory, and we begin with no fixed commitments, but our initial orientation assumes that what distinguishes objects of study in the humanities—literature, art objects, music, etc.—is that they are the objects they are by virtue of the self-understanding embodied in them, and that humanistic inquiry attempts to articulate the self-understanding and purposiveness that is the basis of the distinct unity of the objects themselves.

Conference Format and Participants

The conference will have a workshop format. Its central purpose is to create a forum for serious discussion on a topic important to humanistic inquiry today. Papers will be pre-circulated and read before the conference, so that we can spend the majority of our time in discussion. The papers are available under the "Conference Papers" tab at the conference website: The page is password protected. If you wish to participate in the conference, please contact Ryan Simonelli at, who will give you access to the papers.


Friday, January 13

10:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Richard Neer (University of Chicago)
 “Wonders Taken for Signs”

2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Rachel Zuckert (Northwestern University)
 “Adaptive Naturalism in Herder’s Aesthetics”

4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. Julia Peters (Universität Tübingen) 
“Hegel’s Notion of Spirit and the Indispensability of Art”


Saturday, January 14

10:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Toril Moi (Duke University)
 “Rethinking Literary History”

2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Sebastian Gardner (University College London)
 “Artistic Form and Post-Kantian Formalism”

4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. Andrea Kern (Universität Leipzig)
 “The World of Art”


Sunday, January 15

9:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Leonardo Lisi (Johns Hopkins University) 
“Tragic Form in Ibsen”

1:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Christian Martin (University of Munich)
 “Poetry as a Form of Knowledge”

4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Daniel Morgan (University of Chicago)
 “The Lure of the Image”


The full conference schedule is available here


This event is free and open to the public. Persons with disabilities who need an accommodation in order to participate should contact the Neubauer Collegium at or773.795.2329.