Associate Professor of Philosophy
She teaches and writes on aesthetics, the philosophy of art and culture, feminist philosophy, and critical race theory.
Roelofs is author of The Cultural Promise of the Aesthetic (Bloomsbury, 2014) and editor of "Aesthetics and Race: New Philosophical Perspectives," a special volume of Contemporary Aesthetics (2009).
She currently is completing a new monograph, "Arts of Address." With Norman S. Holland, she is collaborating on the book, "Anachronism and Aesthetics in Latin America."
Working with contemporary feminist approaches to questions
Contemporary art, theory, and culture invite reflection on the status of aesthetic desire. Broadening and renewing aesthetics, theorists situate aesthetic desire and distaste in practices of commodification and their dynamics of novelty and obsolescence. Exploring the politics of art and culture, feminist, postcolonial, queer, and critical race theorists highlight pleasures, ambivalences, and oppressive facets of aesthetic phenomena, but also investigate uncanny conversions they imply. Artists investigate the role of aesthetic desire in a neoliberal, racial and gendered division of labor and in transnational flows of images that reconfigure space and time, memory and futurity. What concepts enable us to understand these forces and might help us to turn them into desirable directions? Through texts by, among others, Marx, Freud, Adorno, Barthes, Sarduy, Ranciere, Spivak, Bhabha, hooks, Groys, and Richard, novels by Lispector and Eltit, and other cultural productions, this course examines contemporary figurations of aesthetic desire and distaste.
Contemporary critical theorists such as Gayatri Spivak turn trajectories for ethical and political life, as do recent writers on participatory art. What are the powers and pitfalls of this approach? What shifts do philosophical understandings of art undergo in the emerging views of material existence or culture? What new configurations of reading, form, critique, relationality, singularity, and experience are arising? This course examines major concepts in the history of aesthetics (through Kant, Hegel, Schiller, Dewey, Lispector, Garca Mrquez, and Kincaid), in contemporary philosophy and in critical race feminism (through Spivak, Mignolo, Davis, Schor, and Cheng) to develop positions in the debates currently raging in aesthetics.
Philosophers and critical theorists such as Fanon, Althusser, Foucault, Butler, Johnson, and Ahmed indicate that subjectivity, embodiment, and social difference emerge within relationships of address among persons, and among persons and objects. Cultural critics place address at the center of the ethical, political, and aesthetic dimensions of artworks and other cultural productions. What can we learn about representation and reading by considering modes in which we address and are addressed? What insights into institutionality, power, and the global does a framework of address make possible? What conceptions of address inform writings by Benjamin, Barthes, Hansen, Bhabha, Kafka, and Cortazar, among others? How is address linked to desire, experience, publicity, collectivity, aesthetic form, perception, materiality, technology, and the senses? These questions form our point of entry into key texts in twentieth- and twenty-first century philosophy and cultural criticism. Prerequisites: Two theory courses required. Division II and III students only.
Given the importance of letters to the Latin American colonial enterprise and nation-building project, literature is a privileged site to think through contemporary rhetorics of modernity, decoloniality, and neoliberalism. We will begin with the critique of modernity by Borges and Cortazar and then turn to the fractures and shifts introduced by Rulfo, Garcia Marquez, Kincaid, and Eltit, as they confront the pressures of the marketplace and imagine alternative knowledges. We will explore implications for love, desire, aesthetic experience, and time in Lispector, Puig, and Lemebel. Alongside the above writers, we will read selections of the postmodern and postcolonial projects of Anzaldua, Fanon, Franco, Lugones, Mignolo, Rama, Richard, among others.