Call for Papers

Special Issue

Black Reconstruction in Aesthetics
Paul C. Taylor

Debates in Aesthetics is inviting short papers in response to “Black Reconstruction in Aesthetics”, a new article by Professor Paul C. Taylor (Vanderbilt University), specially written for Debates in Aesthetics. The editors invite papers of up to 3500 words, that directly engage with Taylor’s article. A digital proof of “Black Reconstruction in Aesthetics” can be dowloaded here. 

Accepted papers will be published alongside the target article and a response by Taylor. The Debates in Aesthetics essay prize will be awarded to the best paper by a postgraduate student or early-career researcher in this issue. The winner of this prize will be awarded £250. More details on the prize can be found below.


18 APRIL 2019


For this issue, the editors and members of the editorial board will award the Debates in Aesthetics Essay Prize to the best paper by a postgraduate student or early-career researcher (within three years of completed PhD). The amount of the prize is £250 (300 USD).

Authors should clearly indicate at the time of their submission if they wish to enter the competition and explain how they qualify for the DiA Essay Prize.


Black Reconstruction in Aesthetics

This essay uses the concept of reconstruction to make an argument and an intervention in relation to the practice and study of Black aesthetics. The argument will have to do with the parochialism of John Dewey, the institu- tional inertia of professional philosophy, the aesthetic dimensions of the US politics of reconstruction, the centrality of reconstructionist politics to the Black aesthetic tradition, and the staging of a reconstructionist argument in the film, “Black Panther” (Coogler 2018). The intervention aims to address the fact that arguments like these tend not to register properly because of certain reflexive and customary limits on some common forms of philosophical inquiry. The sort of professional philosophy I was raised to practise and value tends not to be particularly inclusive and open-minded, especially when it comes to subjects that bear directly on the thoughts, lives, and practices of people racialized as black. Black aesthetics, by contrast, is an inherently ecumenical enterprise, reaching across disciplinary and demographic bound- aries to build communities of practice and exchange. Hence the need for an intervention: to create the space for arguments and the people who work with them to function across disciplinary and demographic contexts.


download full paper here

About the author

Professor Paul C. Taylor is the author of Race: A Philosophical Introduction (Polity, 2013), On Obama(Routledge, 2015), and Black is Beautiful: A Philosophy of Black Aesthetics (Wiley Blackwell, 2016). The latter was awarded the ASA monograph prize in 2017. He is W. Alton Jones Professor of Philosophy at Vanderbilt University.

Please note: The editors of Debates in Aesthetics and Paul C. Taylor offer this paper as a preview to solicit submissions for the forthcoming special issue. The final version of the paper will appear alongside accepted papers and a response by Taylor in our next issue. Please do not cite without permission.