87375 - Aeshtecs and Theory of Art Experience (1)

Academic Year 2023/2024

  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: First cycle degree programme (L) in Drama, Art and Music Studies (cod. 5821)

    Also valid for First cycle degree programme (L) in Philosophy (cod. 9216)
    First cycle degree programme (L) in Philosophy (cod. 9216)

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course the student: acquires the basic theoretical tools to understand contemporary aesthetic debates on art experience and so-called widespread forms of aestheticity; is able to critically place aesthetic and artistic phenomena of different kind into the context of contemporary culture; can understand how and to what extent the aesthetic has changed in the transition from the 20th century to the 21st; acquires the essential knowledge and skills to analyze and interpret communications mediated by aesthetic categories; is aware of socio-cultural implications that are present in creative and expressive phenomena; is familiar with the relation between the aesthetic and other dimensions of human experience, such as, for example, knowledge and cognition or ethics and politics.

Course contents

Aesthetics, critical theory, pragmatism, contemporary music.


The aim of this lecture course is to investigate some fundamental moments and aspects in the history of contemporary aesthetic debates inspired, on the one hand, by the critical theory of society of the so-called Frankfurt School, and, on the other hand, by pragmatism.

In particular, we will focus our attention on the importance of certain questions connected to the status of the work of art in the age of the technological reproducibility and mass culture, investigating these questions on the basis of the conceptual tools offered by authors such as Walter Benjamin, Theodor W. Adorno, Richard Shusterman and Alva Noë.

In this context, we will pay a specific attention to the role played by music in the development of the philosophical conception of a thinker like Adorno (who was also a music critic, a musician and a composer himself).

With regard to this, we will especially focus our attention, on the one hand, on Adorno's critique of popular music in the 1940s/1960s (that somehow still echoes, so to speak, in the conception of an influential philosopher of our time like Noë), and, on the other hand, on Shusterman's defense of the popular arts from the 1990s until today.

On this basis, we will also investigate the possibility, that has emerged at least since the 1960s, of the creation of forms of "light music" that are also capable to express a critique of contemporary society, exemplifying this discourse through the unique case of the American composer, guitar player and singer Frank Zappa.




- W. Benjamin. L’opera d’arte nell’epoca della sua riproducibilità tecnica, ed. F. Valagussa, Einaudi, Torino 2011 (only pp. 3-38).


- Th. W. Adorno. Sulla popular music, ed. M. Santoro, Armando, Roma 2004 (only pp. 64-125).


- Th. W. Adorno. Filosofia della musica moderna, trad. it. di G. Manzoni, Einaudi, Torino 2002 (only pp. 3-5, 35-130).


- R. Shusterman. Estetica pragmatista, ed. G. Matteucci, Aesthetica Edizioni, Palermo 2010 (only pp. 121-152).


- R. Shusterman. Esperienza estetica e arti popolari, ed. S. Marino, Mimesis, Milano-Udine 2023 (only pp. 25-89).


- Alva Noë, Strani strumenti. L'arte e la natura umana, trans. V. Santarcangelo, Einaudi, Torino 2023 (only pp. 196-221).


- S. Marino. La filosofia di Frank Zappa. Un'interpretazione adorniana, Mimesis, Milano-Udine 2014.

Other readings for potential (not obligatory) further studies:


- S. Marino e R. Vitali, Theodor W. Adorno, in “Nuova Informazione Bibliografica”, n. 4, 2018, pp. 605-632 (https://www.rivisteweb.it/issn/1824-0771/issue/7581).


- G. Matteucci, L’artificio estetico. Moda e bello naturale in Simmel e Adorno, Mimesis, Milano-Udine 2012.


- S. Marino, Le verità del non-vero. Tre studi su Adorno, teoria critica ed estetica, Mimesis, Milano-Udine 2019.


- S. Marino, Verità e non-verità del popular. Saggio su Adorno, dimensione estetica e critica della società, Mimesis, Milano-Udine 2021.


- S. Marino and E. Guzzi. La filosofia dei Radiohead. Musica, tecnica, anima, Mimesis, Milano-Udine 2021.


- E. Donaggio (a cura di), La scuola di Francoforte. La storia e i testi, Einaudi, Torino 2005.


- M. Farina (a cura di), Theodor W. Adorno 1969-2019
Attualità di un pensiero
, numero monografico di "Syzetesis. Rivista di filosofia", dicembre 2020 (https://www.syzetesis.it/rivista/2020.html).


- P. Molinari e M. Settura (a cura di), (In)attualità di Adorno. Estetica e dialettica, Mimesis, Milano-Udine 2022.

The bibliography may be subject to changes until the beginning of the lecture course.

Teaching methods

Lectures, conversations and discussions with the students, audio and video materials shared with the students in the classroom.

Assessment methods

The assessment method is a written paper on the fundamental topics included in the books in program.

The paper must be sent by e-mail to the teacher at least 15 days before the exam date.

The paper must be focused on, and thus take into examination, at least three significant topics derived from the texts included in the Program.

In case the teacher thought it was necessary or useful to further examine some students, he will ask those students to also make an oral exam after the correction of their written papers.

During the examination the teacher will assess whether the student has achieved or not some basic educational goals:

knowledge of the texts and capacity to contextualize authors and works;

comprehension of the fundamental concepts and capacity to provide a correct interpretation of them;

clarity in the explanation of concepts and accuracy in the use of philosophical terminology;

capacity to establish connections between the various authors and themes from both a historical and a strictly speaking conceptual point of view.

During the examination the teacher will assess if the student possesses the abovementioned knowledge and skills in a (more or less) complete, precise and adequate way, or vice-versa in a (more or less) incomplete, vague and superficial way.

The final grade will correspondently vary from excellent (30 and honors) to very good (30) to good (27-29) to fairly good (24-26) to more than enough (21-23) to merely enough (18-21) to unsatisfactory (<18).

The paper must be written in Times New Roman 12, must use Word format, and must have a min. length of 7.000 characters and a max. length of 30.000 characters, including blank spaces.

Teaching tools

Power point presentations in classroom and audio/video materials that are coherent with the texts in the program.

Office hours

See the website of Stefano Marino


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This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.