Call: Casts and Casting: Perspectives from Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art – British Society of Aesthetics Workshop

Call for Abstracts (300-500 words)

Casts and Casting: Perspectives from Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art. A workshop supported by the British Society of Aesthetics
University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield
10-11 November 2018

Abstract submission deadline: 17 September 2018

Speakers will include: Catharine Abell (Philosophy, Manchester); Anna Blackwell (Centre for Adaptations, De Montfort); Craig Bourne (Philosophy, Hertfordshire) & Emily Caddick Bourne (Philosophy, Hertfordshire); Beccy Collings (Film, Television and Media, UEA); Nils-Hennes Stear (Philosophy, Southampton); Kathleen Stock (Philosophy, Sussex).

This workshop focuses on philosophical questions arising from the casting of particular actors in particular roles in, e.g., film, television and theatre. By focussing on casting and its relationships to fictional truth and to audience engagement, we hope that the workshop will catalyse work on several areas of emerging philosophical interest:

  1. Questions concerning what cast changes in serial fiction, franchises and adaptations show about the dynamics of fictional truth and the identity of fictional characters. For instance: In what ways do casting decisions legitimate the re-evaluation of fictional truths or reinterpretation of original fictions? Do any such cases support the view that fictional truths can change over time in a way actual truths cannot? Can casting practices help reveal anything about whether or not fidelity can be a source of aesthetic value in adaptations? What does casting show about the identity-conditions of fictional characters?
  2. Questions about the aesthetic evaluation of individual instances of casting or of broader casting practices. For instance: How can aesthetic responses to actors’ bodies be co-opted into the aesthetic responses invited by artworks? What kind of an aesthetic flaw is miscasting? When audiences evaluate actors as getting their characters wrong, what does this suggest about the ways in which fictional truths about characters can be generated by things other than the behaviour of actors? What are the aesthetic advantages and disadvantages of casting either in line with, or against, audiences’ expectations of how a character will be represented, and how do these relate to potential ethical and epistemic advantages/disadvantages of such choices?
  3. Questions about the relationship between diversity in casting and philosophical theories of artistic representation. For instance: Can concepts from aesthetics help to articulate differences between so-called ‘inclusive’, ‘non-traditional’, ‘colour-blind’, ‘colour conscious’ and ‘cross-cultural’ casting, and to evaluate these different terms and the respective ambitions? What models of perception and aesthetic attention capture the kinds of ‘seeing’, ‘visibility’ and ‘invisibility’ involved in audiences’ various responses to actors and their characters? What are the aesthetic implications of casting actors who differ from the characters they portray in e.g. ethnicity, gender, disability or sexuality, how do these implications differ from case to case, and how do the aesthetic aspects of such choices interact with their ethical and epistemological aspects?

Other philosophical questions about casts and casting are very welcome too.

Please send abstracts of 300-500 words to (Craig Bourne) and (Emily Caddick Bourne) by 17 September 2018. We aim to communicate decisions by 24 September 2018.

Speakers selected for the workshop will be offered two nights’ accommodation in Hatfield, and a contribution to travel expenses.


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