Research and Key Publications

At the core of my research lie the pleasures and compromises of aesthetic experience, as these take shape in day-to-day encounters and get sparked by an array of objects within and beyond the world of art. The Cultural Promise of the Aesthetic (Bloomsbury, 2014, 2015) locates aesthetic meanings in promises that suffuse our bonds with persons, things, and places.

While philosophers have long linked aesthetics with race and forms of difference intersecting with race, twenty-first century theorists expose such ties 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 two main lines:

1. Modes of address (or the multisensory forms of signification pervading our relationships) sustain powerful parameters of social organization across the fields of love, law, friendship, design, food, indifference, uselessness, and play. “Arts of Address,” a new book in progress, explores their operations.

2. With Norman S. Holland I’m engaged in a collaborative project. Focusing on Chilean, Argentine, and Colombian art and literature, we investigate aesthetic movements gesturing toward alternative forms of collectivity in post-dictatorial Latin American societies.


Selected Articles

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

“Navigating Frames of Address: María Lugones on Language, Bodies, Things, and Places.” Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy. Forthcoming.

“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): 1:101-5.

“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, in press). Rpt. from Chapter 5 of The Cultural Promise of the Aesthetic, with slight revisions.

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

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
Latin American Literature: Between Modernity and Decoloniality (with Norman S. Holland)
Feminist Philosophy:
The Mysterious, the Playful, the Funny, the Useless, the Intimate, and the Indifferent


mroelofs [at] 

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