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Admission requirements

Admission to this course is restricted to:

  • BA students in Filosofie, who have successfully completed at least 70 ECTS credits of the mandatory components of the first and second year of their bachelor’s programme, including History of Modern Philosophy, Cultuurfilosofie, Continentale filosofie, Philosophy of Mind.

  • BA students in Philosophy: Global and Comparative Perspectives, who have successfully completed at least 70 ECTS credits of the mandatory components of the first and second year of their bachelor’s programme, including World Philosophies: Modern Europe, Philosophy of Culture, Concepts of Selfhood, and at least one of the courses World Philosophies: China, World Philosophies: India, World Philosophies: Africa, World Philosophies: Middle East.

  • Pre-master’s students in Philosophy who are in possession of an admission statement and who have to complete an advanced seminar, to be selected from package A.


In this course we will focus on a specific trajectory in (Post-)Kantian aesthetics that is marked by the shift from understanding art in terms of beauty to what, in general terms, could be called an ‘aesthetics of disorientation.’

We will explore this aesthetics of disorientation by focusing on a series of important concepts, each of which has a specific signature and is tied to a particular set of philosophical problems. As a first entry point, we will focus on the sublime and its paradoxical aspects (bringing in Immanuel Kant’s das Erhabene as well as Edmund Burke’s the sublime and the contemporary echo’s of these ideas in Lyotard, Rancière, and Gilroy). A second perspective will be derived from another way in which the imagination can become overwhelmed: symbolization, which is tied to Kant’s schematism (we will connect this with Eisenstein’s ‘montage of attractions’). A third model will be provided by Hegel’s discussion of tragedy as a conflict that emerges between two equally legitimate positions that are both one-sided (critically re-interpreted by Kierkegaard and Nietzsche). As a fourth entry point we will focus on various interpretations of estrangement (Viktor Shklovsky’s Ostranenie; Bertolt Brecht’s Verfremdungseffekt, Walter Benjamin’s Gestus).

By combining these four ‘models of disorientation’ we will slowly work towards a theory of fabulation (inspired by Gilles Deleuze’s ‘powers of the false’), understood as a visionary faculty that differs from the imagination and that kicks in when the imagination is overpowered. This will also allow us to address some of the political implications of art, specifically concerning minority positions and decolonial questions.

Course objectives

This course aim to provide the students with a clear view of:

  • a particular trajectory within modern Aesthetics in which the focus starts to shift from an understanding of art in terms of beauty to an approach that views art more in terms of disorientation;

  • the various forms of disorientation that characterizes this trajectory;

  • the link between these philosophical views and the artworks that either comply or diverge from these views;

  • the relevance of this aesthetics of disorientation for understanding modern art.

Students who successfully complete the course will have a good understanding of:

  • the various views on the effects of disorientation that artworks bring about;

  • the differences between these effects of disorientation;

  • the relations between art and philosophy.

Students who successfully complete the course will be able to:

  • critically understand and interconnect a great variety of texts on the aesthetics of disorientation with each other and link them to traditional discussions in aesthetics;

  • develop an original and relevant question in which the philosophical implications of the disorienting effects of art are discussed and further developed.


The timetables are available through MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminars

  • Class attendance and active participation is required.

Assessment method


Graded assessments

  • Research project

  • Final paper on a question agreed in advance based on the submitted proposal

Non-graded practical exercises

  • Students will have to present, at least once, their interpretation of one of the texts and discuss it with the group.

  • Each student has to hand in a proposal for the final essay and discuss it with the rest of the group.

  • Each student has to do a peer review of the proposals of two others.

  • In the last seminar, each student will have to present a draft version of the paper.

These four exercises will not be graded, but are required for getting admission to the exam (final paper).


  • Research project (30%)

  • Final paper (70%)

The final mark for the course is established by determination of the weighted average of the graded subtests.


Satisfactory completion of practical assignments (presentation, proposal) is a prerequisite for taking the resit. Students who have obtained a satisfactory grade for the first examination cannot take the resit.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

We will conduct the course in English, using English translations. The students are invited to read the original text if they speak that language (German, French, or even Russian, Danish). These original texts are usually freely available on the Internet. Texts will be made available through the library.

Selections from:

  • Brecht, Bertolt. Brecht On Theatre. German original: Schriften zum Theater. In: Gesammelte Werke. Band 15.

  • Benjamin, Walter. Understanding Brecht. Translated by Anna Bostock. German original: Versuche über Brecht.

  • Burke, Edmund. A Philosophical Inquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of The Sublime and Beautiful.

  • Clewis, Robert. R. (ed.). The Sublime Reader.

  • Deleuze, Gilles. The Movement-Image. Cinema 1. Translated by Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam. French orginal: L’image-mouvement. Cinéma 1.

  • Deleuze, Gilles. The Time-Image. Cinema 2. Translated by Hugh Tomlinson and Robert Caleta. French orginal: L’image-temps. Cinéma 2.

  • Eisenstein, Sergei. Selected Works Volume II: Towards a Theory of Montage. Translated by Michael Glenny.

  • Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich. Aesthetics: Lectures on Fine Art. Translated by T.M. Knox. German original: Vorlesungen über die Philosophie der Kunst.

  • Kant, Immanuel. The Critique of Pure Reason. Edited and translated by Paul Guyer and Allen W. Wood. German orginal: Kant’s gesammelte Schriften. Band IV Kritik der reinen Vernunft.

  • Kant, Immanuel. The Critique of the Power of Judgement. Edited and translated by Paul Guyer and Eric Matthews. German orginal: Kant’s gesammelte Schriften. Band V. Kritik der Urtheilskraft.

  • Kierkegaard, Søren. Either/Or: A Fragment of Life. Edited by Victor Eremita. Translated by Alastair Hannay.

  • Lyotard, J.-F. Lessons on the Analytic of the Sublime. Translated by Elizabeth Rottenberg. French original: Leçons sur l'analytique du sublime.

  • Nevitt, Marcus and Tanya Pollard (eds.). Reader in Tragedy. An Anthology of Classical Criticism to Contemporary Theory.

  • Rancière, Jacques. The Politics of Aesthetics. Translated by G. Rockhill. French original: Le Partage du sensible: Esthétique et politique.

  • Shklovsky, Viktor. Viktor Shklovsky: A Reader. Edited and translated by Alexandra Berlina.


Enrolment through MyStudymap is not possible for this course. Students are requested to submit their preferences for the third-year electives by means of an online registration form. They will receive the instruction and online registration form by email (uMail account); in June for courses scheduled in semester 1, and in December for courses scheduled in semester 2. Registration in uSis will be taken care of by the Education Administration Office.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Huizinga


Not applicable.