Research and Key Publications

At the core of my research lie the complexities of aesthetic experience as it takes shape in our day-to-day encounters and gets sparked by people, things and places within and beyond the world of art. My book The Cultural Promise of the Aesthetic (Bloomsbury, 2014; pbk, 2015) locates the concept of the aesthetic in the three constitutive notions of promises, relationality, and address. Thus the book develops a novel approach to the aesthetics-politics relation, one that takes account of the links tying the aesthetic to interlacing modalities of difference.

While philosophers have long connected aesthetics with race and the categories intersecting with race, twenty-first-century theorists expose such connections to revised critical methods. Recent outlooks come together in Aesthetics and Race, a special issue of Contemporary Aesthetics (2009) that I guest edited.

My current work runs along three main lines:

1. Forms of address (or the multimodal types of signification we direct at people, things, and places, and they at us and at each other) are a mainstay of social organization. Sustaining both aesthetic and political meanings, they pervade the fields of love, law, design, food, and play. Two new books in progress, Arts of Address: How We Relate to Language, People, Things, and Places and Aesthetics, Address and the Making of Culture, investigate address’s key mechanisms and importance.

2. With Norman S. Holland I’m co-authoring the book Streetwalkers, Waifs, and Malefactors: Aesthetics and Temporality in Latin America. Rethinking both reading and the political aspirations of the aesthetic through the devices whereby artists uproot temporal orders inherent in the global market, this book lays the groundwork for a contemporary Latin American and Latinx aesthetics.

3. With Michael Kelly I’m co-editing an anthology on Black Aesthetics, in connection with the Questioning Aesthetics Symposium: Black Aesthetics that we co-organized at Hampshire College in March-April, 2017. For background materials, program, and soon also videos, see and

Selected Articles

“Race-ing Aesthetic Theory.” The Routledge Companion to the Philosophy of Race, ed. Paul C. Taylor, Linda Martín Alcoff, and Luvell Anderson. In press.

“A estética, o endereçamento e ‘sutilezas’ raciais” (Aesthetics, Address, and Racial “Subtleties”). In Estética em preto e branco (Aesthetics in Black and White), ed. Carla Milani Damião (Goiânia, Goiás, Brazil: Edições Ricochete and CEGRAF/UFG, 2018). Forthcoming.

“Coheres, portas, ruas e pessoas como remetentes e destinatários. Estética e seus diversos locais de normatividade” (Spoons, Doors, Streets, and People as Addressors and Addressees: Aesthetics and Its Many Sites of Normativity). Rapsódia 11 (2017). (University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil). Forthc., 2018.

“Identity and Its Public Platforms: A String of Promises Entwined with Threats.” Texte zur Kunst 107. In English and German. Sept. 2017: 68-85.

Review essay of Paul C. Taylor’s Black is Beautiful: A Philosophy of Black Aesthetics (2016). Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 73.3 (2017): 299-302.

Between Justice and Cruelty: The Ambivalence of the Aesthetic.” Aesthetic Turns 2.2, ed. Roger Rothman, Modernism/modernity, M/m Print Plus platform. June 2, 2017.

“Navigating Frames of Address: María Lugones on Language, Bodies, Things, and Places.” Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy 31.2 (2016): 370-87. Cluster on Latina Feminism. DOI 10.1111/hypa.12233

The Aesthetic and Its Resonances: A Reply to Kathleen M. Higgins, Carolyn Korsmeyer, and Mariana Ortega.” In Symposium on The Cultural Promise of the Aesthetic by Monique Roelofs. Contemporary Aesthetics 14 (2016).

“Kantian Mouthliness: Enlightenment, Address, Aesthetics.” differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies 26.2 (2015): 29-60. DOI 10.1215/10407391-3145949

Monique Roelofs and Norman S. Holland, “Anachronism and Baroque Abandon: Carpentier’s, Cortázar’s, and Botero’s Decolonial Columns.” Confluencia: Revista Hispánica de Cultura y Literatura 30, no. 3 (2015): 149-66.

“Anti-Aesthetic.” Encyclopedia of Aesthetics, 2nd edition, ed. Michael Kelly (Oxford University Press, 2014).

“Cruising through Race.” Race, Philosophy, and Film, ed. Mary Bloodsworth-Lugo and Dan Flory (Routledge, 2013), 84-100. Rpt. in Six Viewpoints on Aesthetics (free e-book) (New York: Routledge, 2015), 85-99.

“Taste, Distaste, and Food.” Encyclopedia of Food and Agricultural Ethics, ed. Paul B. Thompson and David M. Kaplan (Dordrecht: Springer, 2014): 1719-27. DOI 10.1007/978-94-007-6167-4

“Beauty’s Relational Labor.” Beauty Unlimited, ed. Peg Zeglin Brand (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2012), 72-95.

Review essay of Gail Day’s Dialectical Passions: Negation in Postwar Art Theory. Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews. June 2011.

“Theorizing the Aesthetic Homeland: Racialized Aesthetic Nationalism in Daily Life and the Art World.” Constructing the Nation: A Race and Nationalism Reader, ed. Mariana Ortega and Linda Martín Alcoff (Albany: SUNY Press, 2009), 201-230.

Introduction to Aesthetics and Race: New Philosophical Perspectives, Special Volume 2 (2009) of Contemporary Aesthetics, ed. Monique Roelofs.

Sensation as Civilization: Reading/Riding the Taxicab.” Aesthetics and Race: New Philosophical Perspectives, Special Volume 2 (2009) of Contemporary Aesthetics, ed. Monique Roelofs.

“Race and Aesthetics.” Blackwell Companion to Aesthetics, 2nd edition, ed. Stephen Davies, Kathleen Higgins, Robert Hopkins, and Robert Stecker (Malden, MA and Oxford: Blackwell, 2009), 489-492.

Review essay of Alexander Nehamas’s Only a Promise of Happiness: The Place of Beauty in a World of Art. Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 66, no. 4 (Fall 2008): 399-401.

“The Aesthetics of Ignorance.” Feminist Aesthetics and Philosophy of Arts: Critical Visions, Creative Engagements, ed. L. Ryan Musgrave (Dordrecht: Springer, 2018). Rpt. from Chapter 5 of The Cultural Promise of the Aesthetic, with slight revisions. Forthcoming.

The Veiled Presence of Race in the Philosophy of Art: Reclaiming Race for Aesthetics.” APA Newsletter on Philosophy and the Black Experience 6, no. 1 (Fall 2006): 1-5. (A slightly modified and more fully documented version of “Culture, Capital, History, but not Race?”).

Culture, Capital, History, but not Race?” Voices of the Profession column. Newsletter of the American Society for Aesthetics 26, no. 2 (Summer 2006): 1-4. Also at

“Racialization as an Aesthetic Production: What Does the Aesthetic Do for Whiteness and Blackness and Vice Versa?” White on White/Black on Black, ed. George Yancy (Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield, 2005), 83-124. Rpt. in The Philosophy of Race, ed. Paul Taylor, Vol. 3. Race-ing Beauty, Goodness, and Right (New York: Routledge, 2012), 291-327.

“A Pearl’s Perils and Pleasures: The Detail at the Foundation of Taste.” “The Lure of the Detail: Critical Reading Today.” Special Issue of differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies 14, no. 3 (2003): 57-88.

“Aesthetification as a Feminist Strategy: On Art’s Relational Politics.” Art and Essence, ed. Stephen Davies and Ananta Ch. Sukla (Westport: Praeger, 2003), 193-212.

“Relationality without Relationships: Kitsch, Idolatry, and other Paradoxes in Aesthetics and Religion.” Religion “nach der Religionskritik” (Religion “after the Critique of Religion”). Wiener Reihe: Themen der Philosophy, Band 12, ed. Ludwig Nagl (Vienna and Berlin: R. Oldenbourg Verlag and Akademie Verlag, 2003), 263-73.

“A Hypothesis about Seeing-in.” Richard Wollheim on the Art of Painting: Art as Representation and Expression, ed. Rob van Gerwen (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 59-74.


Grants and Awards

2016 Major Project Initiatives Grant, American Society for Aesthetics, for Questioning Aesthetics Symposium: Black Aesthetics, Hampshire College, March 31-April 1, 2017. With Michael Kelly.

2015 American Society for Aesthetics Curriculum Diversification Award, for the project Theories of the Aesthetic: Rethinking Curricula in Philosophies of the Arts and Culture.

2013 Hirschberg Sustainability Curriculum Development Grant


Recent Courses

Aesthetics, Race, and Nation
The Body in Contemporary Philosophy
Feminist Philosophy and the Technologies of Race/Gender/Coloniality
Aesthetic Desire and Distaste: Art, Consumption, Markets, Politics
Ethics, Aesthetics, Politics, and the Concept of Address
Paradoxes of the Aesthetic: From Schiller to the Present
Black Aesthetics: Art, Race, Nation, and the Global
Latin American Literature: Between Modernity and Decoloniality (co-taught)
Feminist Philosophy: The Mysterious, the Playful, the Funny, the Useless, the Intimate, and the Indifferent


mroelofs [at] 

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