Professor of Philosophy
She teaches and writes on aesthetics, the philosophy of art and culture, feminist philosophy, and critical race theory.
She is a recipient of a 2015 Curriculum Diversification Award granted by the American Society for Aesthetics, for her project Theories of the Aesthetic: Rethinking Curricula in Philosophies of the Arts and Culture.
Roelofs is currently co-authoring a book titled “Streetwalkers, Waifs, and Malefactors: Aesthetics and Temporality in Latin America” and completing a new monograph, “Arts of Address: How We Relate to Language, People, Things, and Places.”
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.
An exploration of conceptual frames and artistic/literary strategies shaping the burgeoning field of Black Aesthetics, as exemplified by recent practices and theories. What role do notions of the aesthetic and the political play in shifts that are happening in the field? How do understandings of the cosmopolitan, the cross-cultural, the nation, the local, migration, diaspora, gender, race, queering, culture, and the global take form in current work? What new questions arise? Artworks in multiple media and traditions will be considered. The course will develop synergies with the "Questioning Aesthetics Symposium: Black Aesthetics" (Hampshire College, March 31-April 1, 2017), the exhibition "Emancipating the Past: Kara Walker's Tales of Slavery and Power" (UMCA, February-April 2017), and other events in the Five Colleges during the Spring 2017 semester.
Working with contemporary feminist approaches to questions of difference, this course asks what place we should give experiences that seem quite central to everyday cultural life: those of the mysterious, the playful, the funny, the useless, the intimate, and the indifferent. How do these experiences mesh with meanings put into play by language, the senses, performances, critical reason, and the market? How do they link up with alternative kinds of pleasure and desire? What other concepts should we add to the list? Readings in feminist theory will be coupled with discussions of literature, art, and other cultural productions.
Philosophers, cultural critics, and artists often invoke Friedrich Schiller's 1794 letters, On the Aesthetic Education of Man, in accounts of the relation between art and politics. Schiller's view of aesthetic life and its political powers turns out to be highly paradoxical. How do the tensions Schiller navigates reverberate in contemporary approaches to the relations between freedom and constraint, power and powerlessness, autonomy and the social, universality and difference? What do his notions of love, play, and beauty suggest for current perspectives on everyday aesthetic existence and for our capacities for critical participation in public and cultural life? Studying Schiller along with images, sound, and literature, we will read texts by writers such as Anna Julia Cooper, Du Bois, Benjamin, de Man, Kristeva, Ranciere, Lorde, Spivak, Enwezor, Kester, Ahmed, Ngai, and Lispector, among others. Division II and III students only.