Second Series

Please note: All seminars will take place on Teams. If you would like to attend the seminar series or one of the events below, please contact the organisers, Nicole Ruta and Marina Iosifian. We would be happy to add you to the ArC community!

Seminar 6: What is art?

Friday 3 September 2021, 3:30pm to 5:00pm (UK time)

Defining art is an ancient challenge and we believe it is still a relevant starting point for anyone interested in better understanding this complex phenomenon. How can psychology and art contribute in shedding light on this fundamental question?


  • Dhanraj Vishwanath, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, University of St Andrews
  • Fulvia Carnevale aka Claire Fontaine, MA Fine Art, artist

Seminar 7: Serial Television

Friday 10 September 2021, 3:30pm to 5:00pm (UK time)

Serial television is one of the youngest and most popular art products. However, it is yet unclear how people cognitively engage with serial television and how this format differs from cinema. We will discuss this question from two different approaches, involving psychological science and film studies.


  • Zoe Shacklock, PhD, Lecturer in Film Studies, University of St Andrews
  • Joseph Magliano, Professor of educational psychology, Department of Learning Sciences, Georgia State University

Seminar 8: Imagination

Friday 17 September 2021, 3:30pm to 5:00pm (UK time)

Imagination is a fundamental aspect of human cognition and of our experience of the world. What is the role of this process when we encounter a work of art? We will discuss how scientists and researchers in the humanities theorise this concept.


  • Judith Wolfe, Professor of Philosophical Theology, University of St Andrews
  • Gerald Cupchik, Professor of Psychology, University of Toronto Scarborough

Due to a technical issue, the recording of this session is not available. Please contact the organisers if you are interested in receiving written notes of this seminar.

Seminar 9: Fashion

Friday 24 September 2021, 3:30pm to 5:00pm (UK time)

Fashion is one of the most significant cultural phenomena of our times. But can fashion influence our moods and communicate cultural status? We will discuss this question from two different approaches, involving psychological science and theology.


  • Robert Covolo, PhD, Center for Pastoral Residents, Christ Church Sierra Madre
  • Carolyn Mair, Professor of Psychology for Fashion, Independent scholar

Seminar 10: Music

Friday 1 October 2021, 3:30pm to 5:00pm (UK time)

How do we engage cognitively and emotionally with music? We will discuss mechanisms of music processing involving multidisciplinary approaches to music perception and experience.


  • Julia Merrill, PhD, Systematic musicologist, Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics
  • Eric Clarke, Heather Professor of Music, University of Oxford

Seminar 11: Text and Image

Friday 8 October 2021, 3:30pm to 5:00pm (UK time)

Can art be considered a form of communication? Comics are the 9th art, integrating text and images to describe temporality and telling stories. We will explore how this unique visual language can give us insights about human communication.


  • Neil Cohn, Associate Professor, Tilburg University
  • Matteo Farinella, PhD, multimedia producer for Columbia University Zuckerman Institute

Seminar 12: Cinema

Friday 15 October 2021, 3:30pm to 5:00pm (UK time)

We will discuss the cinematic experience from a multidisciplinary point of view, trying to address fundamental issues, such as: How do we cognitively and emotionally engage with films and visual storytelling? Which are the embodied mechanisms that are activated while we watch moving images?


  • Tim Smith, Professor of Cognitive Psychology, Birkbeck University
  • Lucy Fife Donaldson, Senior Lecturer in Film Studies, University of St Andrews

Seminar 13: Perception of portraits

Friday 29 October 2021, 3:30pm to 5:00pm (UK time)

Portrait is one of the oldest art forms. How we perceive portraits? We will discuss psychological mechanisms of face perception and aesthetic judgments.


  • David Perrett, Professor, School of Psychology and Neuroscience, University of St Andrews
  • Jesse Prinz, Professor of Philosophy, The Graduate Center, The City University of New York

Seminar 14: Creativity

Friday 5 November 2021, 3:30pm to 5:00pm (UK time)

How do people create works of art? What makes us perceive an artefact as creative? Which are the mechanisms that enable us to respond so powerfully to the products of creativity? We will discuss this fascinating topic by comparing the perspectives of psychology and philosophy.


  • Rebecca Chamberlain, Lecturer in Psychology, Goldsmiths University of London
  • Dustin Stokes, Associate Professor in Philosophy, University of Utah

Seminar 15: Art and morality

Friday 12 November 2021, 3:30pm to 5:00pm (UK time)

The beautiful and the good: are aesthetic judgments related to moral ones? And if so, why do we have the tendency to attribute moral qualities to certain aesthetic qualities? We will discuss the state of the art and the relevance of this topic in the aesthetics and art domain, combining insights from neuroscience and philosophy.


  • Anjan Chatterjee, Professor of Neurology, Psychology, and Architecture, University of Pennsylvania
  • Panos Paris, Lecturer in Philosophy, Cardiff University

Seminar 16: Fiction

Friday 19 November 2021, 3:30pm to 5:00pm (UK time)

Fiction can be broadly described in terms of imaginary narratives of different formats (e.g., writings, films, theatre, poetry, comics). It is not yet clear whether cognitive and affective engagement with fiction is different from engagement with real-life events. We will discuss this question from different perspectives, involving psychological and philosophical approaches.


  • Keith Oatley, Professor Emeritus of Cognitive Psychology, University of Toronto
  • Jérôme Pelletier, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Institut Jean Nicod, Ecole Normale Superieure and University of Brest

Seminar 17: Multi-sensory perception and art

Friday 26 November 2021, 3:30pm to 5:00pm (UK time)

Art often does not involve all our senses, as real-life perception does. We cannot hear paintings or touch music. Nevertheless, engagement with art involves multi-modal aspects of human perception. We will discuss this question from two different perspectives, involving psychology and art.


  • Charles Spence, Professor, Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford
  • Carol Steen, Artist, Professor, Touro College

Seminar 18 Art and science: collaboration projects

Friday 3 December 2021, 10:00am to 11:30am

Art and science are often seen in opposition, as two conflicting ways of looking at the world. Integrating those two disciplines is a challenging task, however the last two decades have witnessed an increasing research interest in the field of aesthetics. How can psychology and art collaborate in order to deepen our understanding of art?


  • Johan Wagemans, Full Professor of Experimental Psychology, K.U. Leuven
  • Anne-Mie Van Kerckhoven aka AMVK, artist, MS Fine Arts

Seminar 19: Art in context

Friday 10 December 2021, 3:30pm to 5:00pm (UK time)

Researchers in empirical aesthetics often investigate how humans perceive art in unnatural settings, such as a psychology lab. How does the context in which we encounter a work of art (a gallery, a lab, a street) affect the way we engage with it? How to fill the gap between aesthetic science and aesthetic experience?


  • Alistair Rider, Senior Lecturer in Art History, University of St Andrews
  • Alexis Makin, Lecturer in Psychology, University of Liverpool

Seminar 20: Learning from fiction

Friday 17 December 2021, 3:30pm to 5:00pm (UK time)

People often interact with the worlds of fiction, involving cinema, serial television, theater, etc. Can engagement with fiction influence our cognitive abilities in everyday life? We will discuss this question from different perspectives, involving philosophy and psychology.


  • Anna Abraham, E. Paul Torrance Professor, University of Georgia
  • Gregory Currie, Professor of Philosophy, University of York