Rowan University
Ellen Miller, Ph.D.
Department of Philsophy & Religion
Rowan University
Glassboro, NJ 08028

Dr. Ellen Miller
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Introduction to Philosophy   (Mon. & Weds.)
Introduction to Philosophy   (Tuesday)
Introduction to Ethics
Philosophy and Gender


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Contemporary  Moral Problems
Philosophy and Society
Logic of Everyday Reasoning
Feminist Theory
Western        Humanities

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Jump to:
 Course Description and Objectives
 Policies and Procedures
 Required Texts
 Assignments and Grading
 Office Hours and Numbers
 Study Questions (for Participation Portfolio)
 Web Links

Course Description and Objectives  

The focus of this course is on you-and art. We will work towards developing our own positions about artworks and philosophy of art by engaging with theorizations about art as well as actual artworks. We will discuss and critically analyze your experience of art, your reflections about art, and, for some, your creation of artworks. Some people think of art as intensely personal. Others think of art as intersubjective, communal, and/or heavily influenced by historical and social conditions. We will explore both these dimensions of art - and others as well.

Our philosophical and aesthetic conversations will be held with a view toward deepening your thoughts about such central questions as: Is everything art, or is art rarely and difficultly achieved? What is good art? Is good art beautiful? Is good art meaningful? disturbing? true? How do I know whether I'm experiencing art aesthetically? What is the purpose of art? Is art for art's sake alone? What is the connection between artist and beholder, the social order, the artworld, other artists' achievements, the future of art? Can art do harm?

The objectives of the course include familiarizing you with aesthetic theories that have exerted influence on the artworld and guiding you in applying and assessing them through philosophical analysis, reflection, and argumentation. The course has twin goals: your developing skills in artwriting and your formulating your own aesthetic theory, which you can apply to a wide-range of artworks.

As you will learn from the variety of assigned writings, there are many formats for artwriting and aesthetic reflection.

An important goal of this course is to develop student's philosophical skills through encounters with art and writings about art. An important premise (open for discussion) is that it is important for philosophers (and we are all considered philosophers in this course) not to privilege theory over practice in such a way that writing about art is seen as more important or truthful than the artworks themselves. Previous philosophical study would be helpful in working towards this goal, though it is not required. I encourage students who have not previously studied philosophy to speak with me openly so that you can get the most out of our class. An openness towards both philosophy and art as well as an interest in both are important qualities for this course.

My hope is that we will be able to learn from each other's academic and artistic strengths, interests, and backgrounds through class discussions, lectures, and office hours.

I look forward to sharing my love for both philosophy and art with you throughout this semester.

Policies and Procedures  

Academic Honesty Policy

All forms of academic dishonesty, namely, cheating on exams, submitting plagiarized or fabricated work from another person's book or web-site, submitting another person's work without informing the instructor, or engaging in any kind of deception that would bear on the evaluation of submitted work will be dealt with in a strict manner.
If you find yourself questioning whether you have documented your sources properly, it is your responsibility to come see me about these issues prior to submitting your assignment. If you find yourself thinking about submitting work that is not your own due to pressure, frustration, or perfectionism, please come talk to me. I am here to help you resolve these issues before they become a problem for your academic career at UTC and beyond. The University has an Honor System that is printed in the Student Handbook.

Attendance Policy

Students are required to attend all scheduled classes. More than two unexcused absences will negatively affect your grade. This course will emphasize dialogue, exchange, and debate with your peers and the professor. This is YOUR class. It is important that you attend class so that you can participate in the discussions.

Lateness Policy

Please respect your classmates and professor by coming to class on-time.

Late Papers

Papers are due at the beginning of class and in the format instructed by the professor. Unexcused late papers will be penalized 5 points per day. As explained in class, in the case of an emergency, please notify me in writing 48 hours before due date for extension consideration.

NB: In the event that a student misses class, s/he is responsible for announcements or changes to the course. Please check the website, see me during office hours, or ask a classmate for this information. I will update the class website regularly so that you can check for these changes.

Required Texts 

Available in UTC Bookstore
Aesthetics: A Reader in Philosophy of the Arts, edited by David Goldblatt and Lee B. Brown

The Art of Living: Aesthetics of the Ordinary in World Spiritual Traditions, by Crispin Sartwell

On Reserve at Lupton Library
Selections by Maurice Merleau-Ponty from "Eye and Mind," "Indirect Language and the Voices of Silence," and The Phenomenology of Perception.

Assignments and Grading  

Artwriting #1 (Due Jan.26): 15%
*2-3 pages

Essay (Due February 12:) 25%
*4-6 pages

Artwriting #2 (Due March 9): 10%
*2-3 pages

Final Paper (Due April 23): 30%
*7-10 pages

Participation (including Portfolio): 15%
*Students are asked to keep a portfolio that includes answers to study questions, reflections on the readings, lectures, and discussions, your own questions, any "gifts" you might want to contribute (ie: examination of an artwork as it compares to readings, reflections on teaching art, thoughts on your own artistic work, any creative work you may want to contribute). These will be collected two times during the course: February 19th and April 23rd.
*Attendance is necessary but not sufficient to ensure a good participation grade. Students will be evaluated on their preparation for all classes, listening abilities, answers to study questions, and group work. I will be especially attentive to your class work when your classmates are leading discussion sessions. Good participaion is not equivalent to speaking a lot in class.

I encourage you to come visit me early in the semester so that I can get to know you. This is especially important if you are quiet during class discussions.

Office Hours and Numbers  

Dr. Ellen Miller, Assistant Professor
Educational Background
Ph.D., York University

Doctoral Dissertation Title: Releasing Philosophy, Thinking Art: A Bodily Hermeneutic of Four Poems by Sylvia Plath

B.A (Honors), Philosophy and English, Rutgers University

Study Abroad Program, Bristol University

Artistic interests: Former dancer with Ballet South Regional Ballet Company. Poetry has appeared in literary journals such as Room of One's Own, Cacophony, and the Anthologist.

I have presented papers at scholarly conferences such as the Canadian Philosophical Association, American Academy of Religion, and Society for Women in Philosophy which examine issues in philosophy of art.

Office Location: 232G Holt Hall
Phone: 755-4318
Office Hours: Monday 12:50-1:50 pm
Wednesday 12:50-1:50 pm
Thursday 1:30-3:30 pm
Or by Appointment


Study Questions (for Participation Portfolio)  

Please bring your reflections to class. These will be collected as part of your participation portfolio on February 19, 2001.

January 8, 2001
1. Plato thinks that we spend much of our lives not experiencing what is "really real." That is, he thinks our senses lead us into error, even calls the world of sight "a prison-house." How do you interpret this allegory? Your editors suggest several possibilites on page 117 of Aesthetics.This allegory has been taken up by countless artists, including poets and film-makers (Think of Theodore Roethke's poetry and the recent film the Matrix)

2. On page 9, Sartwell begins to articulate his understanding of art as "skilled and devoted making." He states that his conclusions can not be reached by an armchair examination of the Western aesthetic conception of art (p.9). Why does he thnk this? In what ways does Sartwell claim his approach differs from "armchair" approach?

January 12, 2001

1. Which aesthetic theory do you find more satisfying, Hume or Kant? (approx. 1 page)
January 19, 2001
approx. 2 pages: PLEASE TYPE
1. Describe and illustrate each of Weitz's types of art theory
2. What is the difference between a descriptive and an evaluative use of a concept?
3. What is the importance of aesthetic theory for Weitz? Do you agree?
4. Explain Dewey's distinction between experience and AN experience.
Merleau-Ponty Study Questions:
"Eye and Mind," p. 159-178
1. Explain how the painter merges his/her body into a painting?
2. How does the painter make the invisible visible?
3. What is the difference between classical science and constructive science?

Pages 178-190
1. Describe how depth, line, and movement function , according to Merleau-Ponty.
2. What is the importance of vision for the painter?

"Indirect Language and the Voices of Silence,"p. 39-64
1. Why can there never be any complete expression?
2. What are the good and bad aspects of the Museum?
3. How does perception stylize?
Kivy disarees with Scruton's claim that music is an abstract art with no power to represent the world. Why does Kivy disagreee with Scruton's account. What are your own thoughts on their disagreement?
1. Evaluate Levinson's defintion of music. Is it too narrow, too broad? Misleading? Accurate?

2. What is the distinction between listening "as if" sounds were music and listening to sounds that are music (p.273).

Web Links  

Discussing the Undiscussable

To supplement our interesting discussion about the Holocaust and art.

MacKinnon/Romano Debate over Pornography

MacKinnon/Romano Debate #2

Men's Movement

MacKinnon and Dworkin on Pornography

Text of Mill's On Liberty

On-line version of Mill's On Liberty

Museum Links around the World

Copyright 2001 Dr. Ellen Miller. All rights reserved. Document last modified