Art + Philosophy Now

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Module code


  • Level 3
  • Semester 2
  • 24 places
  • Philosophy - School of Humanities
  • Coursework 100%


This module provides an introduction to some philosophers who are currently influential in the discourse surrounding contemporary art, as well as to core philosophical issues concerning the nature of the relationship between philosophy and art. It will raise and explore possible answers to questions such as:

  • How can philosophy enhance the artists' self-understanding and practice?
  • What is the role of philosophy in art theory, and in art exhibition catalogues and artists' own creative practices and written justifications of those practices?
  • Conversely, what can art offer to philosophy?
  • How do art and philosophy function in relation to each other, and each in relation to the world?
  • What is the social and political function of each? Do they have distinct roles and functions, or are art and philosophy similar kinds of activities?

Philosophers covered in the module will be selected from Jean-François Lyotard, Gilles Deleuze, and Jacques Rancière. Each of these have garnered interest in the art world, and have explored answers to the above questions through writings in both the genres of philosophical aesthetics and art commentary.

This module is well suited to those students interested in contemporary European Philosophy and in art and aesthetics.


Dr Ashley Woodward


Lecture, seminar and individual tutorial. Students will be required to follow a schedule of set readings which will form the basis for seminar discussions. Students will have the option of presenting practical projects in class, and such presentations will form the basis of group discussions.

Students will be required to follow a range of primary texts in detail and to refer to a set of secondary readings, as well as excerpts from other texts which will form the basis for seminar discussions, oral presentations, and the final essay. The range of materials students will engage with include writings in philosophical aesthetics, philosophical art commentary, and a variety of artworks (painting, music, film, etc.) the selected philosophers have commentated on.


The assessed components on this module are:

  • One x Textual Commentary (1,500 words) OR Practical Project with accompanying written justification (1,000 words), 40% weighting
  • One x Essay (3,000 words), 60% weighting


Indicative Reading

  • Jean-François Lyotard, Miscellaneous Texts I: Aesthetics and Theory of Art. Writings on Contemporary Art and Artists, vol. IVa (Leuven: Leuven University Press, 2009).
  • Jean-François Lyotard, Miscellaneous Texts II: Contemporary Artists. Writings on Contemporary Art and Artists, vol. IVb (Leuven: Leuven University Press, 2009).
  • Kiff Bamford, Lyotard and the Figural in Performance, Art and Writing (London: Continuum, 2012).
  • Gilles Deleuze and Fèlix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987).
  • Jacques Rancière, The Future of the Image (London: Verso, 2009).

Access the online reading list system