Rethinking Core Texts in Liberal Arts & Sciences Education in Europe

Connell Vaughan has published a chapter in the following anthology


“Whereas liberal arts and sciences education arguably has European roots, European universities have evolved over the last century to become advanced research institutions, mainly offering academic training in specialized disciplines. The Bologna process, started by the European Union in the late nineties, encouraged European institutions of higher education to broaden their curricula and to commit to undergraduate education with increased vigor. One of the results is that Europe is currently witnessing a proliferation of liberal arts and sciences colleges and broad bachelor degrees. This edited volume fills a gap in the literature by providing reflections on the recent developments in Europe with regard to higher education in the liberal arts and sciences. The first section includes reflections from either side of the Atlantic about the nature and aims of liberal arts and sciences education and the way in which it takes shape, or should take shape in European institutions of higher learning. The edited volume takes as a distinct approach to liberal arts and sciences education by focusing on the unique way in which core texts – i.e. classic texts from philosophical, historical, literary or cultural traditions involving “the best that has been written” – meet the challenges of modern higher education in general and in Europe in particular. This approach is manifested explicitly in the second section that focuses on how specific core texts promote the goals of liberal arts and sciences education, including the teaching methods, curricular reflections, and personal experiences of teaching core texts. The edited volume is based on a selection of papers presented at a conference held in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, in September 2015. It is meant to impart the passion that teachers and administrators share about developing the liberal arts and sciences in Europe with the help of core texts in order to provide students with a well-rounded, formative, and genuinely liberal education.”

Connell Vaughan ‘Antiphonal Republic.’


Connell has recently published an article in OAR: The Oxford Artistic and Practice Based Research Platform Issue 1 (2017).

“The anthem, when considered as a dynamic site, as opposed to a static symbol, might expand the zone of the Republic to different temporal and spatial contexts. In the spirit of an enquiry into ‘sites of research’, this paper therefore considers the space of Moriarty’s imaginary kingdom and its significance for rethinking the contemporary anthem. Anthems can be seen as symbolic signs of unity and/or division.6 Shana Redmond, for example, has seen the anthem as emblematic of solidarity and citizenship. The anthem she argues, in its varied composition and performance, is a ‘sound franchise’ contributing to the political domain.”





A recent publication by Connell Vaughan “Mega-Spectacles of Engagement”.

“The tricky contortions of the vilified weasel are an apt t for the language of contemporary aesthetic theory, practice and policy. There is today, in Ireland and beyond, a palpably cavalier and casual attitude to the language of aesthetic sensibility. Aesthetic concepts are routinely reduced to keywords to be cited, referenced and namechecked. Words such as ‘deconstruction’, ‘modern’, ‘critical’ and even ‘aesthetic’ itself, are recycled like fashion trends. Rarely are they consciously complicated, interrogated or even reappointed.”


Venice Biennale 2017


As part of this years Venice Biennale the Aesthetics Group will be presenting new research at the Research Pavilion. More to follow…



The Graduate School of Creative Arts and Media (GradCAM) at the Dublin Institute of Technology propose a 2-day program of seminars, panel discussions, interventions and performances in line with the overall thematic of The Utopia of Access. The focus of the program will be twofold, firstly, to revisit questions of digital aesthetics in the wake of the development of computational analytics and cognitive computing and secondly, to raise questions of new political economy through the development of new forms of economy, namely, the contributive economy.



Book Chapter…

Following a hugely successful and enjoyable conference  The Beautiful Game: The Poetics and Aesthetics of Soccer in Transnational Perspective at the University of Basel in July both Connell and Mick are writing a proposed book chapter titled “Caveman stuff”: Ireland’s Soccer Struggle with Identity, Style and Success”.

The chapter considers the complex relationship between style, success and Irish identity in relation to Irish soccer. Hoping to wrap it up over the coming week.


Style over substance…


Barcelona via Dublin: Re-turn to Schiller.


The Creative Agency in Local Communities conference in DIT Grangegorman, Dublin and the European Society for Aesthetics 8th Annual Conference in University of Barcelona

The Aesthetics Group also presented a live web conference between Barcelona and Dublin during the European Society for Aesthetics Conference and the Creative Agency in Local Communities conference. Members of the group chaired a live web session between both cities responding to a turn to education in aesthetic theory and practice and a mobilisation of Friedrich Schiller’s concept of the play drive.

The session brought together a range of theorists, art practitioners and educators including Professor Doris Sommer (Director of the Cultural Agents Initiative at Harvard University).


Live link from ESA Conference in Barcelona to The Creative Agency in Local Communities conference in DIT Grangegorman, Dublin, June 2016.


ESA 2016 Proceedings published

The European Society for Aesthetics Conference took place in the Department of Philosophy of the Autonomous University of Barcelona and the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Barcelona in June past.

Members of the Aesthetics Group presented papers on a variety of topics. Néill O’Dwyer presented a paper “Death and Ecstasy: Reflections on a Technological Sublime” which focused on the shift, taking place in the arts, brought about by the migration from mechanical to digital technology and the import of software into working processes.The materialisation of mathematics and algorithms in artistic practice was highlighted which led to a questioning of the experiential shift taking place in the encounter with new digitalised art forms.

Mick O’Hara presented a paper titled “Tracing the Invisible” which addressed  Jacques Derrida’s deconstructive reading of Merleau-Ponty, focusing particularly on both philosophers’ writings on the visual arts. Defending Merleau-Ponty, the paper considered the role of embodiment in the mark making processes of drawing and painting while pointing to Merleau-Ponty’s deepening ontology of his later work.

Connell Vaughan returned to the experiential nature of digital media offering a critical analysis of iconoclasm in state building with a particular focus in Islamic State’s mobilisation of digital technology and the deliberate digital documentation of the destruction of cultural heritage sites. The paper titled “Statecraft: Vandalism and Iconoclasm in the Digital Age” argued that such documentation was strategic and not simply blind iconoclasm but vandalism in the service of state formation.

The Proceedings from the conference have just been published and can be read and downloaded here.

‘THE ENQUIRY’ @ Irish Museum of Modern Art IMMA



The Enquiry is a seminar group affiliated with the Graduate School for Creative Arts and Media, Dublin (GradCAM) and hosted by IMMA. It was first convened in 2009 by Georgina Jackson, who was then a PhD candidate with GradCAM. Originally the group was concerned with collating research on seminal counter-exhibitionary strategies. The current working group comprises Jeanette Doyle, Jennie Guy, Fiona Hallinan, Emer Lynch and Kate Strain. We are concerned with developing a performative analysis of exhibition-making modes, both historical and contemporary.

As a culmination of six months of regular meetings, ‘The Enquiry @ IMMA’ was conceived as a platform to perform our practice-based research. The event took place on Friday 15 July 2016, commencing in IMMA’s former bookshop, where visitors were welcomed with warm beverages prepared by Fiona Hallinan.

Download review here

EARN (EUROPEAN ARTISTS RESEARCH NETWORK) conference. October 13th/14th 2016 LUCA School of Arts, Brussels.

Cathy O’Carroll presented a Performance – Palimpsest – at this two-day international conference.  The conference drew attention to what it means for art to exhibit bringing together research projects that integrate processes of artistic agency and mediation in the field of contemporary art and visual culture at large. Its aim was to explore the notions of curation and display/exhibition as artistic research practices.





: Men (Pause)

: Women (Pause)

: Children (Pause)

: Fawns (Pause)

: Deer (Pause)

: Stags with huge antlers (Pause)

: Women with antlers (Pause)

: A woman, with hair like antlers…and a penis… (Pause)


: 2 Women give birth to snails (Pause)

: The theme of doubles is persistent…


: Twins (Pause)

: Twin orbs (Pause)

: 2 in a bath (Pause)

: And couples (Pause)

: Coupling (Pause)

: Copulating (Pause)

: Reproducing (Pause)

: Replenishing… (Pause)

: And the piece pauses for a moment on this image, 3 seconds, a breath (Pause)

A light piano refrain tinkles…

: Echoes peace, resolution, stillness, completion…

: For this moment, the throbbing soundtrack stops Allowing music and image to play a little longer… Remain, a little longer.

(Excerpts from PALIMPSEST by Cathy O’Carroll)