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Malcolm Quinn is Professor of Cultural and Political History, Associate Dean of Research and Director of Graduate School for Camberwell, Chelsea and Wimbledon Graduate School, UAL and Honorary Senior Research Associate, UCL Faculty of Laws, Bentham Project.  In 2018, he co-convened the seminar series ‘Bentham and the Arts’ with Anthony Julius (UCL) and Philip Schofield (UCL).

His research deals with public aesthetics and ethics. He has written two single-authored books that trace, firstly, the aesthetic of politics in twentieth-century fascism and secondly, the intellectual history of a politics of the aesthetic in nineteenth-century Britain.  Between the publication of these two books, he collaborated with Professor Dany Nobus of Brunel University on a study of psychoanalytic approaches to knowledge and identity. This collaborative research has informed the analysis of ‘the utilitarian conversion’ in ethics in nineteenth-century thought and its role in defining a new politics of art and taste.

He is General Editor of The Persistence of Taste: Art, Museums and Everyday Life Since Bourdieu, published in Routledge’s ‘Culture, Economy and the Social’ series in 2018.  This book developed from the conference ‘Taste After Bourdieu’ held at Chelsea College of Arts in 2014.

In 2015, he developed the two-day conference ‘Victorian Futures’ (Chelsea College of Arts, 14/15 May 2015) in collaboration with Middlesex University and the V&A. This conference used the past to look critically at the future of a national debate on art and public culture in the UK.

Research Statement

My current research engages with ideas that were foundational for state funded art education in England – utility, taste, well-being, cultural prejudice and social equity. The identification of this set of foundational concepts has developed from historical work on how the state funded art school emerged from a utilitarian critique of the academy in England in the 1830s.  This research is summarised in my book Utilitarianism and the Art School in Nineteenth-Century Britain, London: Pickering and Chatto 2012.  Most recently, I have co-convened the seminar series ‘Bentham and the Arts’ with Anthony Julius (UCL) and Philip Schofield (UCL).  The seminar series considered the sceptical challenge presented by Jeremy Bentham’s hedonistic utilitarianism to the existence of the aesthetic, as represented in the oft-quoted statement that, ‘Prejudice apart, the game of push-pin is of equal value with the arts and sciences of music and poetry. If the game of push-pin furnish more pleasure, it is more valuable than either.’ This statement is one part of a complex set of arguments on culture, taste, and utility that Bentham pursued over his lifetime, in which sensations of pleasure and pain were opposed to aesthetic sensibility.

Select Achievements

(2003) SEDA PDAF ‘Supervising Research Degrees for Professionals in Art, Design and Communication’

(2000) Royal College of Art PhD

(1991) Royal College of Art MA by thesis

(1985) Wimbledon School of Art BA (Hons) degree in Fine Art, with commendation in History of Art and Complementary Studies

(1981) Jordanstown Polytechnic, Northern Ireland Art Foundation Diploma

(2018) Edited with Dave Beech, Michael Lehnert, Carol Tulloch, Stephen Wilson The Persistence of Taste: Art Museums and Everyday Life After Bourdieu, London: Routledge.

(2012) Utilitarianism and the Art School in Nineteenth-Century Britain, London: Pickering and Chatto

(2005) With Professor Dany Nobus Knowing Nothing, Staying Stupid: Elements for a Psychoanalytic Epistemology, London: Routledge

(1994) The Swastika: Constructing the Symbol, in the ‘Material Cultures’ series of the  Department of Anthropology, University College London, London: Routledge

(2017) ‘The Plot Against the Futurein Memories of the Future: On Countervision, Bern: Peter Lang

(2013) ‘The Pedagogy of Capital: Art History and Art School Knowledge’ in Potter, M. (ed.) The Concept of the ‘Master’ in Art Education in Britain and Ireland, 1770 to the Present, Farnham: Ashgate

(2013) ‘Art and Psychoanalysis (Among Other Discourses)’ in Kivland, S. and Segal, N. (eds.) Vicissitudes: Histories and Destines of Psychoanalysis, London: IGRS/UCL

(2011) ‘Chigurh’s Haircut: Three Dialogues on Provocation’ in Corris, M. Joseph-Lester, J. & Kivland, S. Transmission Annual: Provocation, London: Artwords Press

(2011) ‘What is the Alternative?’ in Cummings, N. and Critical Practice eds. Parade, Public Modes of Assembly and Forms of Address, London: CCW Graduate School

(2010) ‘Insight and Rigor: A Freudo-Lacanian Approach’ in Biggs, M. & Karlsson, H. eds.The Routledge Companion to Research in the Arts, London: Routledge

(2010) ‘Lapdogs of the Bourgeoisie’ in Haq, N. & Zolgadhr, T. eds. Lapdogs of the Bourgeoisie, Bristol: Arnolfini Gallery.

(2016) ‘Jeremy Bentham on Liberty of Taste’ History of European Ideas

(2015) Guest editorial: ‘The analysis of stupidity’ JAWS journal (1:1)

(2014) ‘‘[T]he Royal Academy, and the effects produced by it’: accounting for art education in 1835’ Journal of Visual Art Practice 13 (1).

(2014) [T]he Royal Academy and the Effects Produced By It’: Accounting for Art Education in 1835

Journal of Visual Art Practice (13:1)
(2013) ‘Stupidity is Anything At All’ Parallax (19:3)

(2011) ‘The Invention of Facts: Bentham’s Ethics and the Education of Public Taste’ Revue d’études benthamiennes 9

(2011) ‘The Disambiguation of the Royal Academy of Arts’ History of European Ideas (37:1)

(2011) ‘The political economic necessity of the art school 1835–1852’ The International Journal of Art and Design Education (30:1)

(2008) ‘Critique conscious and unconscious: listening to the barbarous language of art and design’, Journal of Visual Arts Practice  (7:3)

(2018) ‘Jeremy Bentham’s Unrefined Enlightenment’ Bentham and the Arts Seminar

(2017) ‘Jeremy Bentham on Middle-Class Taste’ Bentham Seminars Programme

(2015) ‘Pop Goes Taste’, in ‘Late Tuesday: Good Taste/Bad Taste’, 27 October, London: RIBA.

(2015) ’30 Years of Experience and Changes in Artistic PhD Programmes in UK’, Keynote Speech at ‘Art Schools and Artistic PhD’ conference ZhDK Zurich

(2015) Introduction, panel convenor, conference paper and concluding remarks for ‘Victorian Futures’ London: Chelsea College of Arts

(2015) ‘Auditing Research in the Arts’ Society of Artistic Research Conference, Chelsea College of Arts London

(2014) Introduction and concluding remarks for ‘Taste After Bourdieu’, London: Chelsea College of Arts

(2014) Keynote presentation for ‘Memories of the Future’, London: Senate House

(2014) Lecture at National Association for Fine Art Education Conference

(2014) Lecture at ‘Stupidious’ London: South London Gallery

(2013) ‘Utilitarianism and the Art School in Nineteenth-Century Britain’ at What’s the Point of Art School? conference, London: Central Saint Martins UAL

(2012) ‘Bentham and Hume on Social Standards of Taste’ at International Society for Utilitarian Studies (ISUS) conference, New York: New York University

(2011) ‘Reading Reynolds With Bentham: The Idea of the Art School in Nineteenth-Century Britain’ at Bentham Project Seminars, London: University College London

(2010) ‘Art Schools and “The Pedagogical Impulse”: an Historical Perspective’ at IJADE conference, Art and Design Education and Contemporary Culture, Liverpool

(2009) ‘The education of the eyes of the people by our own Government: Utilitarianism and Sublimation in Public Space 1832 -52’ at History of Education Society UK Annual Conference

(2009) ‘The Chamber of Horrors: Art Education and Mass Culture’, Cambridge University Faculty of Education

(2008) ‘Art Schools and the Pedagogy of Capital’, Doctoring Practice Conference, Bath Spa University

(2008) ‘On Liberty and Art: Aesthetics and the Social Bond in Schiller and Lacan’ lecture for CLiC Circle for Lacanian Ideology Critique, Jan van Eyck Academy, Maastricht.

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