Postgraduate Diploma Course in Aesthetics, Criticism and Theory (ACT) | Postgraduate Certificate Course in Aesthetics, Criticism and Theory (ACT)

Aesthetics, Criticism and Theory (ACT)

Aesthetics, Criticism and Theory (ACT) is an intensive four-month programme of in-depth seminars – offered online in 2021 – providing students with a rigorous introduction to art history, criticism, aesthetics, critical theory, and a breadth of artistic praxis.

The theoretical groundwork of ACT is laid through classes on aesthetics in Western philosophy with careful attention to figures like Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche, and Foucault. Seminars analyse how the discipline of art history and the practice of art criticism emerged and transformed over time in the West, and how it engaged with developments in South Asia.

We are devoted to understanding the foundations of critical theory with close readings of seminal thinkers like Marx, Ambedkar, Lefebvre, Said and the Frankfurt School. Their theories are further critically employed to unravel spaces of colonial and postcolonial modernities. The goal is always to put theory in direct engagement with practice. Inviting practitioners that consciously move between disciplines, institutions, pedagogy, curating and diverse forms of making and exhibiting, students are exposed to a range of historical and contemporary creative practices.

Seminars on modernism, postmodernism, anti-caste movements, contemporary architecture and the philosophies of technology also form an essential part of the programme. They provide important tools with which to address and understand diverse art practices, as well as the social and political implications of art in the wider world. Engaging with thinkers such as Geeta Kapur, Arjun Appadurai, Laura Mulvey, TJ Clark, Arthur Danto, Vilem Flusser, Jean Luc Nancy and Jacques Ranciere, among many others, students enter the charged debates that follow from key moments in the history of art marked by texts such as When Was Modernism, Orientalism, Annihilation of Caste and Capitalist Realism. Theories of photography, digital landscapes, and the sonic sphere are explored through the work of contemporary theorists and artists working within new media practices.

Throughout the modules, students engage with the oeuvres of select painters, sculptors, architects, as well as video, performance, sound, digital and transmedia art practices. ACT brings the absolute best faculty of Indian and international scholars and practitioners; those experienced in pedagogy that tacks between lecture, discussion, close reading, seeing, and writing. ACT students are introduced to ideas, histories and methodologies that allow them to develop and evolve their academic research, writing, and professional interests in the visual arts imaginatively.

Learning how to read and engage critically is an essential part of ACT. Scholars carefully select texts, films, exhibitions, and artists for each session and much of this material is available to the students on our online learning management portal, JPM Think. Students are expected to come to class well-prepared.

Lecture Schedule

24 August 2021 - Tuesday

1) Introduction

- Ms. Adira Thekkuveettil


26 August 2021 - Thursday

1) Plato's Republic

- Prof. Arun Iyer


31 August 2021 - Tuesday

1) Aristotle's Poetics

- Prof. Arun Iyer


02 September 2021 - Thursday

1) Kant's critique of Judgement

- Prof. Arun Iyer


07 September 2021 - Tuesday

1) Hegel: Introduction to the Lectures on Art

- Prof. Arun Iyer


09 September 2021 - Thursday

1) Friedrich Nietzsche

- Prof. Arun Iyer


14 September 2021 - Tuesday

1) Walter Benjamin

- Prof. Arun Iyer


16 September 2021 - Thursday

1) Theodor Adorno

- Prof. Arun Iyer


21 September 2021 - Tuesday

1) Michel Foucault

- Prof. Arun Iyer


28 September 2021 - Tuesday

1) Art History 1: The Heaven of Ideas, the Floor of the Studio

- Mr. Ranjit Hoskote


30 September 2021 - Thursday

1) Art History 2: From Winckelmann to Wolffin: The Making of Art History

- Mr. Ranjit Hoskote


05 October 2021 - Tuesday

1) Art History and the History of Art Criticism 1: From Georgio Vasari to Lucy Lippard, with special reference to Aby Warburg & Erwin Panofsky

- Ms. Nancy Adajania


07 October 2021 - Thursday

1) Shock and Awe Part 1: The Sublime in 18th and 19th Century Art, Literature and Music

- Mr. Aveek Sen


11 October 2021 - Monday

1) Art History and the History of Art Criticism 2: The Indian Context, from Coomaraswamy to Geeta Kapur

- Ms. Nancy Adajania


12 October 2021 - Tuesday

1) Shock and Awe Part 2: The Sublime in 18th and 19th Century Art, Literature and Music

- Mr. Aveek Sen


15 October 2021 - Friday

1) Colonial Landscapes: Art, Aesthetics, and Power

- Dr. Romita Ray


19 October 2021 - Tuesday

1) Orientalism - 1: The Gaze of the Coloniser, the Gaze of the Critic

- Dr. Jaya Kanoria


21 October 2021 - Thursday

1) Orientalism - 2: Making, Displaying: A Rumination on Colonial Art

- Dr. Jaya Kanoria


26 October 2021 - Tuesday

1) Forgetting and Recalling Marx - Lecture 1

- Prof. Saroj Giri


28 October 2021 - Thursday

1) Forgetting and Recalling Marx - Lecture 2

- Prof. Saroj Giri


09 November 2021 - Tuesday

1) Transnational Modernism 1

- Prof. Iftikhar Dadi


11 November 2021 - Thursday

1) Transnational Modernism 2

- Prof. Iftikhar Dadi


16 November 2021 - Tuesday

1) Conceptualising Space

- Ms. Rupali Gupte and Prasad Shetty


18 November 2021 - Thursday

1) Urban Form

- Ms. Rupali Gupte and Prasad Shetty


23 November 2021 - Tuesday

1) Art and Agency

- Ms. Nancy Adajania


25 November 2021 - Thursday

1) Narratives of Exclusion: What Is Modern, Whose Modern and the Public Sphere - Lecture 1

- Prof. Y S Alone


30 November 2021 - Tuesday

1) Narratives of Exclusion: What Is Modern, Whose Modern and the Public Sphere - Lecture 2

- Prof. Y S Alone


02 December 2021 - Thursday

1) Aesthetics of Inhibition, Protected Ignorance: Ambedkarian Critical and Cultural Aesthetics

- Prof. Y S Alone


07 December 2021 - Tuesday

1) Aesthetics of the Everyday: Visual Culture and Photography

- Prof. Suryanandini Narain


09 December 2021 - Thursday

1) Photography, Anthropology and the Anxieties of Seeing

- Prof. Sasanka Perera


14 December 2021 - Tuesday

1) The Promise of Practice

- Prof. Amitesh Grover


16 December 2021 - Thursday

1) The Sonic Turn: On listening and thinking through Sound in Art

- Ms. Suvani Suri

Classes, unless otherwise specified on the schedule of lectures, are from 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm typically on Tuesdays & Thursdays.

All classes will be online.

Students are expected to make a sincere attempt to attend all classes. To obtain an ACT Certificate, students must have at least 75% attendance at live online classes (held on Tuesdays & Thursdays evening). 

For admission, you are required to submit:
a digital copy of each of your last degree certificate, CV, short bio (100 words) and passport size photograph.

International students can email us at to let us know which course they wish to register for. We will provide our bank details to enable the transfer of course fees. After making the transfer, please email all details of the transfer to us. At this point, international students cannot sign up for courses directly from our website. This issue will be addressed soon!

Please read the Terms and Conditions carefully before registering.