What Good Are The Arts?

Transpositions devoted seven days to engaging  with John Carey’s book What Good are the Arts? (2005).  Carey, former professor of English Literature at Oxford University, challenges many of the ‘preconceptions about the good of the arts’ in a way that is both polemical and insightful, leading reviewers to describe the book as ‘informative, thought-provoking and entertaining’‘idiotic’ and ‘savagely amusing’.

At the outset, Carey explicitly states that he is writing from a ‘secular viewpoint’ with the intentional exclusion of ‘considerations of religious faith – not out of disrespect for religion, but because the assumption of a religious faith would alter the terms of the discussion fundamentally and unpredictably.’ (3)  It is for this reason that we at Transpositions, a blog that is exploring the intersection between art and Christian theology, want to engage with Carey’s work, the issues he raises, and consider how his work can be transposed with our own views.

We considered each of Carey’s chapters in order.  Here is the schedule for the week:

Monday (28, March): “What is a Work of Art?” by James McCullough

Tuesday (29, March): “Is ‘High’ Art Superior?” by Sara Schumacher

Wednesday (30, March): “Can Science Help?” by Jim Watkins

Thursday (31, March): “Do the Arts Make Us Better?” by Wesley Vander Lugt

Friday (1 April): “Can Art Be a Religion?” by Jennifer Craft

Saturday (2 April): “Literature and Critical Intelligence” by Somer Salomon

Sunday (3 April): “Creative Reading: Literature and Indistinctness” by Anna Blanch

Monday (4 April): “Afterward: Reflections on Our Review of What Good Are The Arts?by Jim Watkins