Master’s Program in Aesthetics and Politics


All applicants—including international applicants—should indicate in their application whether they want to be considered for financial aid. In addition to Teaching and Research Assistantships, we offer a limited number of work-study opportunities. 

Teaching and Research Assistantships

Each Spring, the admissions committee selects five MA applicants for a Teaching or Research Assistantship. TAs/RAs have the opportunity to work closely together with an MA faculty member teaching a core or elective course and are involved in all the essential aspects of the course. TA/RA positions are paid positions. Students interested in a Teaching or Research Assistantship are encouraged to mention this in their application.

External Fellowships, Summer Schools, Residency Programs

Whitney Independent Study Program

Core Program, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

The Institute for International Education

The Fulbright Program

The Belgian American Educational Foundation

Terra Foundation for American Art

German Academic Exchange Service

The American-Scandinavian Foundation

The Denmark-America Foundation

The League of Finnish-American Societies

The Icelandic-American Society

The Norway-America Association

The Sweden-America Association

The School of Criticism and Theory


Visiting Scholars

This is an informal opportunity for scholars or artists to spend up to a semester at CalArts, using the institute's library and benefiting from the facilities in the MA in Aesthetics and Politics program. Visiting scholars may be invited to present one paper to the Aesthetics and Politics students and faculty during their time at CalArts.

If you have any questions about the visiting scholar arrangement, or want to express your interest in becoming a visiting scholar in the Aesthetics and Politics program, please contact faculty Chandra Khan.

Fall 2016

Sidsel Meineche Hansen is a London-based artist whose research-led practice manifests as exhibitions, interdisciplinary seminars and publications. Her takes the form of woodcut prints, sculptures, CGI and VR animations which typically foreground the body's industrial complex in the pharmaceutical, porn and tech-industries.

Meineche Hansen studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen, Städelschule in Frankfurt a.M. and Goldsmiths in London. In 2009 she founded the research collective Model Court together with Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Lorenzo Pezzani and Oliver Rees, and in 2015 she co-edited Politics of Study (London and Odense: Open Editions and Funen Art Academy). She currently works as an associate professor at the Funen Art Academy, Denmark.  

Her recent solo exhibitions include: SECOND SEX WAR, Gasworks, London and Trondheim Art Museum; NO RIGHT WAY 2 CUM, Transmission, Glasgow International, Glasgow; FLUXESFEVERFUTURESFICTION, Azkuna Zentroa, Bilbao; Liquid Identities, Lehmbruck Museum, Duisburg; Visceral Blue, La Capella, Barcelona (2016); Uncanny Valley, Wysing Arts Centre, Cambridge; Rehearsals in Instability, Andreas Huber Gallery, Vienna; ONE-self, Temporary Gallery, Cologne and Künstlerhaus Bremen (2015); INSIDER, Cubitt, London, Schizo-Culture: Cracks in the Street, SPACE, London; J’ai froid, castillo/corrales, Paris and Late Barbarians, Gasworks, London (2014).

Her recent seminars include: What is an art work doing? (together with Andrea Fraser), Wattis Institute, San Francisco (2016); This is not a symptom, South London Gallery (2014–15); Methylene Blue diluted by Female Ejaculation, SPACE gallery, London ; Why does Fred Sandbeck’s work make me cry?, Cubitt, London and If I Can’t Dance I Don’t Want to Be Part of Your Revolution, Amsterdam; and HIS HEAD, Gasworks, London (2014). Meineche Hansen has also recently presented artist talks at the Serpentine Gallery and LUX, London; Witte de With, Rotterdam; and 98 Weeks, Beirut (2015).

Spring 2015

Nasrin Himada is a writer, researcher and independent film curator based in Montréal. Her interdisciplinary research interests focus on the history of Palestinian cinema, art and activism, and the militarization of urban space through prison infrastructure and police surveillance. Nasrin is the co-editor of the journal Scapegoat: Architecture/Landscape/Political Economy, and is currently a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in Communications at the Université de Montréal, and a visiting scholar in the Aesthetics and Politics Program at the California Institute of the Arts.

Fall 2013

Heather Davis is a postdoctoral researcher, funded by the Canadian government, at Duke University in the Department of Women's Studies. She is currently working on two research projects. The first is an ontological investigation of the impact and materiality of plastic. I am interested in exploring the umwelt of plastic, asking what kind of ethology and ethics plastic opens up. The second project is one that comes out of my dissertation research, where I address contemporary social practice and community-based arts through the figure and problematic of friendship. 

As a visiting scholar in the MA program, Thomas Altheimer will continue his exploration of the concept of sovereignty in its political and subjective forms. He aims to develop the theme and practice of ‘fictioneering rogues’ (rogueism), which was set out in his art practice PhD from Goldsmiths (2013). He will develop a performance lecture on 'falling sovereignty' in the manner of Bataille's self-ruinous concept of sovereignty and Derrida's concept of autoimmunity. The show is intended to be funny in a way Bataille could only dream of. The character he is looking to embody in the performance is somewhere between Thomas Hobbes’s ‘wolf-man’, a happy version of Michel Houellebecq, and a moody version of Gudrun Ensslin. In conjunction with this, Thomas will develop a treatment for a theoretical film on the concept of sovereignty.  

Spring 2013

Dr Graham Cairns is an author and academic from the UK with a cross-disciplinary approach to architecture. He has approached architecture from the perspective of practice, installation art, filmic representation and, more recently, as an explicitly political phenomenon. He has five books, is editor of an international academic journal and has worked in both practice and academia across five continents. He has developed theories on the application of post structuralism and phenomenology to commercial architecture; the influence of the visual language of film on twentieth century architecture and the employment of architectural imagery in political election campaigning in Western Democracies. He currently lives and works in Los Angeles. 

Fall 2012

Giacomo Tagliani is a PhD candidate in Studi sulla rappresentazione visiva (Studies on Visual Representation) at the Istituto Italiano di Scienze Umane, Siena. He completed an MA in Aesthetics of Digital Images at the University of Siena in 2009 with a dissertation on Peter Greenaway, and a BA in Film Theory and Techniques in 2006, working on films by Antonioni, Resnais, Rohmer, Herzog, and Sorrentino. His articles have been published in Italy and Spain, and he has taken part in international workshops and congresses in Siena, Urbino, Madrid Complutense, Barcelona Pompeu Fabra, Milan, and at ASCA (Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis). He is also co-editor--with Riccardo Guerrini and Francesco Zucconi--of Lo spazio del reale nel cinema italiano contemporaneo (Le Mani, Genoa 2009), a book based on a two-day conference about contemporary Italian cinema organized at the University of Siena in 2007.

He is co-author of some short films and documentaries financed by the University of Siena (Board of Cultural Activities) and by Tuscany Region, and he has worked as cameraman and editor at CCS (Siena Civic Channel), first Italian cable television. He has also been cameraman and editor for the video section of theatrical performance Al Kamandjati (The Violinist), staged at Auditorium Parco della Musica in Rome in 2007, whose scenery was designed by Yannis Kounellis. 

His work crosses different disciplines--Semiotics, Aesthetics, Art Theory, Hermeneutics and Cultural Theory--and scholars--Benjamin, Deleuze, Foucault, Ricoeur, Goodman, Rancière, Marin, Agamben, Esposito, Montani--trying to enclose them in a coherent framework in order to outline a possible theory of political cinema. Currently, he is engaged with problems connected with the notion of realism referred to audiovisual texts: by trying to investigate boundaries and effectiveness of the notion of "textualization of the Real"--proposed by Maurizio Grande--his research focuses on the representation of "pastoral power" in Italian cinema, from 70's to present time, through the lens of the "technologies of the self" as outlined in Foucault's latest works.

Spring 2012

Birk Weiberg has studied art history, philosophy, and media arts in Karlsruhe and Berlin. He is currently pursuing a PhD degree in art history at the University of Zurich. Birk has worked as a media artist, designer, and lecturer. Since 2008, he has also been a research associate for media arts at the Zurich University of the Arts. 

Fall 2011

Patricio Maya Solís is a writer and cultural critic born in Quito, Ecuador. He holds an MA in Arts Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School at Syracuse University. He is a regular contributor to AND Magazine (politics), The Red Alert (indie rock), and Edge San Francisco (theater). He also contributes essays on books, movies, and media to art magazines like Visual Overture, Nueva Luz Photographic Journal, and Revista Saludable Light (in Spanish). His blog Hyper/Critical offers quick glances at media events like political TV ads or viral videos. He covered events like the Arizona immigration law for KPFK radio (90.7FM, Los Angeles) and has facilitated live video debates about issues like the BP oil spill on Live Citizen.

Spring 2011

Christian Hite received his Ph.D. in English (Film/Literature/Culture) from the University of Southern California.  His dissertation, entitled Technologies of Arousal: Masturbation, Aesthetic Education, and the Post-Kantian Auto-, attempts a Foucauldian genealogy of “aesthetic education” through the lens of biopolitics, focusing in particular on the problematization—and responsibilization—of “arousal” from the eighteenth century to the present. 

Christian’s current project—which builds on his dissertation—is on the biopolitics of “suicide” from the eighteenth century to the present: from suicide in art, literature, film, and philosophy (Kant, Camus, Kojève, Blanchot, Arendt) to the current phenomenon of suicide-bombings and suicide school-shootings.  As Visiting Scholar in the MA program in Aesthetics and Politics at CalArts, Christian is working towards the completion of a paper entitled “The Art of Suicide: Notes on Foucault and Warhol.” 


Please visit the institute's library homepage for library and information resources, including databases such as JSTOR Arts and Sciences II and III Collections, Political Science Complete, and Project Muse Arts and Humanities Collection. 

For an excellent selection of open access journals, visit the Open Humanities Press website.

Here are some other journals (in random order) that might be of interest:


Radical Philosophy

Culture Machine

Derrida Today






Foucault Studies

Theory and Event


Evental Aesthetics


Reading List

At this point, we do not have a consolidated list of recommended readings. We consider the field of Aesthetics and Politics to be under perpetual construction, and the ways in which our understanding of the field develops depends very much on the perspectives of our students, visiting scholars, visiting lecturers, and faculty. If you would nevertheless like to get a better idea of the kinds of texts we read in the program's core courses, please consult the core course descriptions on the curriculum page of this site. Should you like even more information afterwards, you can always contact one of our faculty members to request a more detailed course syllabus. 

Last edited by adeboever on Sep 06, 2016
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