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Abstract

A considerable number of classical texts in aesthetics and cultural philosophy were originally published outside of the framework of institutionalized academic scholarship. One can begin the modern story with two loners, Nietzsche and Kierkegaard, then continue with the Frankfurt School and end the short list with the French “wave” (Blanchot, Bataille). Contemporary aesthetics benefits also from the work of thinkers like Susan Sontag and Nicolas Bourriaud, who have a huge scholarly impact but who built their careers outside academia. We intend to 1) sketch out a short historical overview of the scholars within aesthetics who could be considered to have worked in the institutional margins, 2) ask if there may be a particular advantage to working that way, and 3) defend and develop a more conscious relationship toward academic margins: could we benefit from a more active relationship with this phenomenon? In arts this is commonplace, and concepts like "outsider art," "outlaw art," and "alternative art" are words that point to different spheres of work in a respectable manner. We may find value In using them to give the margins more institutional justification, which would, in the end, profit the whole institution. This is something we hope to see happen in aesthetics.

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