Professor of Philosophy
Roelofs teaches and writes on aesthetics and feminist, critical race, postcolonial, and political theory. Her book The Cultural Promise of the Aesthetic was published by Bloomsbury in 2014. Her articles have appeared in journals such as Hypatia, Confluencia, differences, M/m-Print-Plus-Platform, and Texte zur Kunst, and anthologies such as Race, Philosophy, and Film (Routledge, 2013) and The Routledge Companion to the Philosophy of Race (2018). She recently completed two new book manuscripts on address, titled “Arts of Address: How We Relate to Language, People, Things, and Places” and “Aesthetics, Address, and the Making of Culture.” The guest editor of Aesthetics and Race, a special volume of Contemporary Aesthetics (2009), she currently is coauthoring a book on aesthetics and temporality in Latin America.
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 temporal dislocations introduced by Juan Rulfo, Clarice Lispector, Jamaica Kincaid, Manuel Puig, Garcia Marquez, Diamela Eltit, Pedro Lemebel, Juan Vasquez, and Samanta Schweblin, as they confront the pressures of the marketplace and imagine alternative knowledges and socialities. We will also explore these implications in several works of film and visual art. Alongside the above artifacts, we will read selections of the postmodern and postcolonial projects of Anzaldua, Fanon, Franco, Lugones, Mignolo, Rama, Richard, among others.
Feminist philosophers have developed views of sociality and agency, subjectivity and cultural life, the public and private, and categories like gender, race, and coloniality, that bear on the shifting territory shared by politics and literature. Pairing models and concepts in feminist theory with approaches in literature and the arts, we will examine themes such as sensitivity and the senses, the distant and the intimate, freedom, love, democracy, and cosmopolitanism.
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.