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Campbell, Shelley, , . Myra: a Portrait of a Portrait
2013, in: Hannah Priest (ed.), The Female of the Species: Cultural Constructions of Evil, Women and the Feminine, Oxford: Inter-disciplinary Press.
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Added by: Hans Maes, Contributed by:

Summary: Considers philosophical problems with representation, particularly in regard to the loss of particularity and individuality in instances when an identity takes on symbolic proportions. Hindley, the woman, has been totally merged with Hindley, the monster. Her particularity has been subsumed as a two-dimensional stereotype by having her photo treated with obsessive media attention by being repetitively linked to that same hated stereotype.

Comment: Useful in classes focused on depiction and representation.

Artworks to use with this text:

Marcus Harvey, Myra (1995)

Despite Harvey’s attack on reflex reactions to Hindley and his verbal protest to the contrary, his portrait has further incited public outrage and denied her a chance of fair treatment. There’s a clear discrepancy between what the artist has said in interviews and what the painting appears to express.

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Chino, Kaori, , . A Man Pretending to Be a Woman: On Yasumasa Morimura’s “Actresses”
2000, in: Brand, Peg Zeglin (ed.), Beauty Matters, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, pp. 252-265.
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Added by: Hans Maes, Contributed by:

Summary: Argues that Morimura’s portraits achieve something that depictions of the female body rarely can. Morimura invites the violent male gaze with his exposed body and then, in the next moment, snubs and nullifies it. With references to Andy Warhol’s portraits of Marilyn Monroe and Cindy Sherman’s work.

Comment: Useful in discussing portraiture and depiction, and objectification in general.

Artworks to use with this text:

Yasumasa Morimura, Descent of the Actresses (1994)

Self-portraits in which the artists impersonates famous actresses.

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Chuang, Liu, , . Models, fiction and fictional models
2014, In Guichun Guo, Chuang Liu (eds.) Scientific Explanation and Methodology in Science, World Scientific Publishing Co.
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Added by: Laura Jimenez, Contributed by:

Summary: The use of models to scientifically represent and study reality is widely recognized with good reasons as indispensable for the practice of science. Because models, unlikely pure verbal representation, are justifiably regarded as vehicles of representation that are not truth-apt, philosophical questions are natural raised concerning the nature of such vehicles and how they represent. A sizeable literature generated in recent years explores the possibility that ”scientific models are works of fiction”. Idealization and other similar strategies are often taken to be the means by which models are made. Arguing against this last claim, the thesis of this article is that most models in science are not fictional. The author argues against the idea that idealization is the means by which models of typically unobservable systems or mechanisms are made.

Comment: Interesting paper about scientific modeling and scientific representation. Useful for undergraduates and postgraduates courses in philosophy of science.

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Freeland, Cynthia, , . Animals
2010, in: Portraits & Persons, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 4-41.
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Added by: Hans Maes, Contributed by: Christy Mag Uidhir

Summary: Defines a portrait as a representation of a living being as a unique individual possessing (1) a recognizable physical body along with (2) an inner life. A third condition is that the subject consciously presents a self to be conveyed in the resulting artwork. Pictures of animals can meet the first two criteria, but not the third.

Comment: Freeland lays ground for a definition of portraits, offering a great introduction to the topic of portraiture, and representation in general. The text can inspire interesting discussions on the possible differences in depicting humans, animals and objects.

Artworks to use with this text:

George Stubbs, Whistlejacket (1761-2)

Freeland disputes the image’s status as a portrait partly because of how formulaic it appears.

Jill Greenberg, Monkey Portraits (2006)

The artist anthropomorphizes the animals, as is evident in the titles she chose for some of the works (‘The Misanthrope’, ‘Oy Veh’). So, do they qualify as portraits?

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Keeshig-Tobias, Lenore, , . The Magic of Others
1990, In Language in Her Eye: Views on Writing and Gender by Canadian Women Writing in English, edited by Libby Scheier, Sarah Sheard and Eleanor Wachtel: Coach House Press
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Added by: Erich Hatala Matthes, Contributed by:

Summary: In this short selection, Keeshig-Tobias (Ojibway) raises questions about representation and authenticity in fiction about Native people written by non-Native authors. With reference to certain Native belief systems, she contextualizes why the telling of a story could be viewed as theft in a way that might seem counter-intuitive to a liberal Western audience.

Comment: This is a useful piece to pair with any of the more theoretical writings on cultural appropriation. It articulates some Native perspectives on cultural appropriation that may be less familiar to students, as well as pointing out problems with some of the assumptions on which defenses of cultural appropriation sometimes depend.

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Kukla, Rebecca, , . Cognitive models and representation
1992, British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 43 (2):219-32.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Simon Fokt

Abstract: Several accounts of representation in cognitive systems have recently been proposed. These look for a theory that will establish how a representation comes to have a certain content, and how these representations are used by cognitive systems. Covariation accounts are unsatisfactory, as they make intelligent reasoning and cognition impossible. Cummins’ interpretation-based account cannot explain the distinction between cognitive and non-cognitive systems, nor how certain cognitive representations appear to have intrinsic meaning. Cognitive systems can be defined as model-constructers, or systems that use information from interpreted models as arguments in the functions they execute. An account based on this definition solves many of the problems raised by the earlier proposals

Comment: [This is a stub entry. Please add your comments to help us expand it]

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Masuda, Takahiko, , others. Culture and aesthetic preference: comparing the attention to context of East Asians and Americans
2008, Personality and social psychology bulletin 34(9): 1260-1275.
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by:

Abstract: Prior research indicates that East Asians are more sen- sitive to contextual information than Westerners. This article explored aesthetics to examine whether cultural variations were observable in art and photography. Study 1 analyzed traditional artistic styles using archival data in representative museums. Study 2 investigated how contemporary East Asians and Westerners draw landscape pictures and take portrait photographs. Study 3 further investigated aesthetic preferences for portrait photographs. The results suggest that (a) traditional East Asian art has predominantly context-inclusive styles, whereas Western art has predominantly object- focused styles, and (b) contemporary members of East Asian and Western cultures maintain these culturally shaped aesthetic orientations. The findings can be explained by the relation among attention, cultural resources, and aesthetic preference.

Comment: This text is an excellent example of experimental aesthetics and psychology of art: it presents evidence that what seems natural or aesthetically pleasing can differ across cultures. This makes it useful in classes focusing on non-Western art or on the universality vs. relativity of taste. Since the text is focused on the psychology, it will likely be best used as a background reading alongside more philosophical works.

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Millikan, Ruth, , . Biosemantics
1989, Journal of Philosophy 86 (1989): 281-97.
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Added by: Jamie Collin, Contributed by: Nora Heinzelmann

Summary: The term ‘biosemantics’ has usually been applied only to the theory of mental representation. This article first characterizes a more general class of theories called ‘teleological theories of mental content’ of which biosemantics is an example. Then it discusses the details that distinguish biosemantics from other naturalistic teleological theories. Naturalistic theories of mental representation attempt to explain, in terms designed to fit within the natural sciences, what it is about a mental representation that makes it represent something. Frequently these theories have been classified as either picture theories, causal or covariation theories, information theories, functionalist or causal-role theories, or teleological theories, the assumption being that these various categories are side by side with one another.

Comment: This would be useful in a course in philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, philosophy of biology, or any course in which naturalistic accounts of mental content are relevant. The paper makes use of memorable illustrative examples, which will help to convey its central ideas to students, and addresses objections to the position developed by Millikan. Suitable for undergraduate as well as graduate courses.

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Morrison, Margaret, , . Fictions, representations, and reality
2009, In Mauricio Suárez (ed.), Fictions in Science: Philosophical Essays on Modeling and Idealization. Routledge.
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Added by: Jamie Collin, Contributed by:

Summary: Uses Maxwell’s model of the ether as a case study in accounting for the role of fictions in science. Argues that we should understand idealisation and abstraction as being different from fiction. Fictional models for Morrison are those that are deliberately intended to be such that the relationship between their structure and the structure of the concrete systems they model is not (immediately) apparent. This is different from mere idealisation, where certain structural features are omitted to make calculations more tractable.

Comment: Very useful as a primary or secondary reading in an advanced undergraduate course on philosophy of science (or perhaps on philosophy of fiction). It is philosophically sophisticated, but also treats the science in enough detail to provide students with some clear ideas about the nature of scientific representational practices themselves. Would be appropriate in sections on scientific representation or modelling.

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Morrison, Margaret and, , Mary S. Morgan. Models as mediating instruments
1999, In M. S. Morgan and M. Morrison (eds.), Models as Mediators: Perspectives on Natural and Social Science. Cambridge University Press.
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Added by: Jamie Collin, Contributed by:

Summary: Morrison and Morgan argue for a view of models as ‘mediating instruments’ whose role in scientific theorising goes beyond applying theory. Models are partially independent of both theories and the world. This autonomy allows for a unified account of their role as instruments that allow for exploration of both theories and the world.

Comment: Useful as a primary or secondary reading in an advanced undergraduate course on philosophy of science, particularly within a section on scientific modeling. The paper is particularly useful in teaching because it is not unduly technical.

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Mukherji, Parul Dave, , . Who is afraid of Mimesis? Contesting the Common Sense of Indian Aesthetics through the Theory of ‘Mimesis’ or Anukaraṇa Vâda
2016, In Arindam Chakrabarti (ed.). The Bloomsbury Research Handbook of Indian Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art. New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 71-92.
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Added by: Meilin Chinn, Contributed by:

Summary: A rejoinder to the claim that mimesis is unimportant in Indian art and aesthetics. Dave-Mukherji seeks to decolonize Indian aesthetics from its internalized Western ethnocentrism, according to which mimesis belongs to the domain of Western art and aesthetics, and open new, non-binary terrain for comparative aesthetics. She seeks to revive the complex theory of visual representation theorized in ancient Indian art treatises, particularly the concept of anukrti, a term she considers cognate to mimesis.

Comment: This text is appropriate for a course in aesthetics and/or comparative aesthetics. It provides an excellent background for a cross-cultural discussion of mimesis.

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Pointon, Marcia, , . Portrait, Fact and Fiction
2013, in: Portrayal and the Search for Identity, Reaktion Books, pp. 23-46.
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Added by: Hans Maes, Contributed by:

Summary: Considers portraiture an unstable, destabilizing, potentially subversive art through which uncomfortable and unsettling convictions are negotiated. As such, it is primarily an instrumental art form, a kind of agency. Also argues that there is an element of the fictive involved in all portrait representations. Explains how portraiture is a slippery and seductive art.

Comment: Useful in discussing portraiture, as well as depiction and representation in general.

Artworks to use with this text:

Garibaldi at Caprera, frontispiece of G.M. Trevelyan, Garibaldi and the Thousand, May 1860 (1931 edition)

A reproduction of a photograph of a copy of a many times copied portrait of the guerilla leader. Devoid of monetary or aesthetic value. Not very likely that Garibaldi looked like this or posed for the artist. The portrait works to endow the historical narrative with its illusion of a unified subject.

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Strother, Z.S., , . “A Photograph Steals the Soul”: The History of an Idea
2013, in: John Peffer and Elisabeth L. Cameron (eds.), Portraiture & Photography in Africa, Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, pp. 177-212.
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Added by: Hans Maes, Contributed by:

Summary: Traces the origins of, and eventually challenges, the idea that many people in non-industrialized countries refused to have their photographic portrait taken due to the belief that it would steal their soul. Investigates and refutes the evidence provided by Richard Andree, James Napier, James G. Frazer. With references to C.S. Peirce, Rosalind Krauss, Susan Sontag.

Comment: Useful in aesthetics classes discussing portraiture, depiction and representation, as well as social and political philosophy classes focused on racial and cultural stereotyping.

Artworks to use with this text:

Antoine Freitas, self-portrait with handmade box camera in Bena Mulumba, Kasaï Province (1939)

A masterpiece of composition, showing the photographer at work, surrounded by children and women who would normally be kept away from recognized sorcerers (thereby demonstrating that the photographer was not considered an evil soul-stealing sorcerer).

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Ukpokolo, Isaac E. , , . Enriching the Knowledge of the Other Through an Epistemology of Intercourse
2020, In: Imafidon, E. (ed.) Handbook of African Philosophy of Difference. Cham: Springer, 193-204
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Added by: Björn Freter, Contributed by: Björn Freter

Abstract: Ideas, knowledge, and cognitive claims we have about “the other” or “the different” traditionally stems from what can be referred to as mainstream Cartesianism of epistemic duality, an orientation that has primary consideration for subject-object dichotomy; the knower and the known; the I and the thou; and the center and the periphery. In such considerations, what is of the center perceives what is not as an “other.” This disposition about the other constitutes a gap in cognition resulting in poverty of knowledge – knowledge of the other attained from a distance. Furthermore, this condition presents some rigid boundary between episteme (the knowledge) and doxa (the opinions), between the “self” and the “other,” between reality and appearance, between noumena and the phenomena, or between space and time. The present work attempts an alternative epistemology that avoids the impossibility of obtaining genuine knowledge beyond the self, proposing an epistemology of intercourse which alone, I believe, is capable of re-presenting a robust understanding of the entirety of reality (a holistic cognition of reality that is a continuum). According to this proposal, “knowledge” is “intercourse.” The knower is subsumed in the known and vice versa. Only then can the knower know the other for what it is and appreciates the non-difference between the knower and the known. This way, a just relationship between the self and the other would evolve.

Comment: [This is a stub entry. Please add your comments to help us expand it]

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West, Shearer, , . Gender and Portraiture
2004, In: Portraiture, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 144-161.
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Added by: Hans Maes, Contributed by:

Summary: The gender of both artist and sitter needs to be taken into account when considering the history of portraiture. Explores how and why women were often portrayed in certain roles (as goddesses, historical or religious figures, allegorical embodiments of abstract notions). Discusses why many women artists before the 20th century were portraitists and considers a few examples. Also highlights changing notions of masculinity in portraiture.

Comment: Useful in aesthetics classes discussing portraiture, depiction and representation, as well as philosophy of gender classes discussing representations of women.

Artworks to use with this text:

Lotte Laserstein, Self-Portrait with Cat (1928) vs Otto Dix, Portrait of the Journalist Sylvia von Harden (1926)

Both portraits were painted in 1920s Germany by artists linked to the New Objectivity art movement. Still, there is a notable difference between the ‘objective’ view of the male artist and the subjective self-image of the woman artist.

Elizabeth Siddal, Self-Portrait (1854)

There’s a marked contrast between the unhappiness and fatigue visible in this self-portrait and the beauty and eroticism in Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s Beata Beatrix (c.1862) in which he transfers the ideal qualities of Dante’s Beatrice into the real portrait of Siddal.

Artemisia Gentileschi, Self-Portrait as “La Pittura” (c. 1630)

It could be said that the artist is complicit in the tendency of portraitists to generalize their women subjects as she embodied herself as the allegory of Painting. Nevertheless, Artemisia does not show herself in an idealized way and by self-consciously manipulating a set of conventions makes a unique contribution to the corpus of self-portraiture.

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