For Love: Taste, Evaluation, and Aesthetics in Criticism and Culture (Q3266)

15 credits, Level 5

Autumn teaching

“I don't know art, but I know what I like,” goes the disclaimer. In this writing-oriented seminar, we seek to unpack the relationship between ‘art’ and ‘what I like’ by examining a variety of cultural objects together with accounts of taste.

You examine concepts including beauty, the sublime, cuteness, the gimmick and formula through texts by Edgar Allan Poe, Marianne Moore, T.S. Eliot, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and Christian Bök. We also cover an assortment of recent evaluative criticism and theoretical writings by Immanuel Kant, Thorstein Veblen, Clement Greenberg, Pierre Bourdieu, Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer, Franco Moretti and Sianne Ngai. 

You'll consider questions such as:

  • what makes us care about art?
  • could annoyance be an aesthetic principle?
  • what is the place of evaluation in an age of analytical criticism?
  • what are the uses of an art that nobody likes?
  • what is the role of money in taste?
  • what are the ethics of aesthetics?
  • under what circumstances is an aesthetic pleasure guilty?
  • when should the appreciation of art works be a matter of disinterested judgment and when a matter of passionate engagement?
  • does love blind?
  • what is the difference between a fan and a critic?
  • what are the affordances and limits of the formulaic and the generic?

Teaching and assessment

We’re currently reviewing teaching and assessment of our modules in light of the COVID-19 situation. We’ll publish the latest information as soon as possible.

Contact hours and workload

This module is approximately 146 hours of work. This breaks down into about 22 hours of contact time and about 124 hours of independent study. The University may make minor variations to the contact hours for operational reasons, including timetabling requirements.

This module is running in the academic year 2019/20. We also plan to offer it in future academic years. It may become unavailable due to staff availability, student demand or updates to our curriculum. We’ll make sure to let our applicants know of such changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.


This module is offered on the following courses: