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Snippet No. 12: Reading “The Arts After Darwin” by Ellen Dissanayake Pt. 1

This is the first part of my reading “The Arts After Darwin: Does Art Have an Origin and Adaptive Function?”

The author, Ellen Dissanayake, is best known for three books on art anthropology: What Is Art For? (1988), Homo Aestheticus: Where Art Comes from and Why (1992) and Art and Intimacy: How the Arts Began (2000). I chose to read “Arts After Darwin”, which was published in 2008 as a chapter in a book called World Art Studies, not just because it’s a shorter, stand-alone, piece but also because it is general enough to serve as an introduction for someone, like me, who isn’t an anthropologist. It was also published after Dissanayake’s three main books on art anthropology, which means she had completed the bulk of her research into this subject by the time she wrote this – not to mention that recency is very important when considering academic writing, especially when there’s a scientific aspect to it.  

You can read “Art After Darwin” yourself here: http://mail.ellendissanayake.com/publications/pdf/EllenDissanayake_ArtsAfterDarwinWAS08.pdf

*I accidently called the paper an “essay” on the recording, which isn’t the right term for this kind of paper.