How Art Works:
A Psychological Exploration
This event includes a book signing
February 8, 2019
Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138
This event is free; no tickets are required.
Harvard Book Store welcomes award-winning psychologist and Boston College professor ELLEN WINNER for a discussion of her new book, How Art Works: A Psychological Exploration.
About How Art Works
There is no end of talk and of wondering about 'art' and 'the arts.' This book examines a number of questions about the arts (broadly defined to include all of the arts). Some of these questions come from philosophy. Examples include:
· What makes something art?
· Can anything be art?
· Do we experience "real" emotions from the arts?
· Why do we seek out and even cherish sorrow and fear from art when we go out of our way to avoid these very emotions in real life?
· How do we decide what is good art? Do aesthetic judgments have any objective truth value?
· Why do we devalue fakes even if we—indeed, even the experts—can't tell them apart from originals?
· Does fiction enhance our empathy and understanding of others? Is art-making therapeutic?
Others are "common sense" questions that laypersons wonder about. Examples include:
· Does learning to play music raise a child's IQ?
· Is modern art something my kid could do?
· Is talent a matter of nature or nurture?
This book examines puzzles about the arts wherever their provenance—as long as there is empirical research using the methods of social science (interviews, experimentation, data collection, statistical analysis) that can shed light on these questions. The examined research reveals how ordinary people think about these questions, and why they think the way they do—an inquiry referred to as intuitive aesthetics. The book shows how psychological research on the arts has shed light on and often offered surprising answers to such questions.
"Ambitious, covering everything from figurative paintings to abstract expressionism, tonal music, novels, and theatre. This is an engaging project, and How Art Works is exhilarating in part because Winner actually has some answers." —New Yorker
"In this thoughtful, judicious, and fascinating book, you'll find our best current answers to all the questions that thinking people ask about art, including what it is, what makes it great, whether it is universal, why we make and enjoy it, and whether it is good for us. How Art Works will be the place to look for knowledge on how art works for years to come." —Steven Pinker, author of How the Mind Works and Enlightenment Now
"Never have the links between the world of the arts and the sciences of the mind been so carefully and fruitfully drawn as they are in Winner's new book." —David Olson, University Professor Emeritus, University of Toronto
Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 2 minutes
As you exit the station, reverse your direction and walk east along Mass. Ave. in front of the Cambridge Savings Bank. Cross Dunster St. and proceed along Mass. Ave for three more blocks. You will pass Au Bon Pain, JP Licks, and TD Bank. Harvard Book Store is located at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Plympton St.
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