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Brandon E. Polite


Brandon E. Polite

Chair & Associate Professor of Philosophy

2 East South Street

Galesburg, IL 61401-4999



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Ford Center for the Fine Arts

Associate Professor and Chair of Philosophy

Years at Knox: 2007 to present


Ph.D., 2010, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

M.A., 2005, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

B.A., 2003, Knox College.

Teaching Interests

Aesthetics, Philosophy of Art, Philosophy of Music, Greek Philosophy, Symbolic Logic

YouTube Series: Polite Conversations: Philosophers Discussing Art 

Professional Web Page

Selected Professional Accomplishments

Edited Volumes

Taylor Swift and the Philosophy of Re-recording: The Art of Taylor's Versions. Edited by Brandon Polite. Bloomsbury, late 2024 (under contract). 

Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles

“Shared Musical Experiences.” British Journal of Aesthetics, Vol. 59, No. 4 (October 2019).

“Prelude To A Theory of Musical Representation.” Revista Musica, Vol. 17, No. 1. (2017).

“The Varieties of Musical Experience.” Pragmatism Today, Vol. 5, No. 2 (Winter 2014).

“Tortured Calculations: Body Economies In Shakespeare’s Cultures of Honor.” Selected Papers of the Ohio Valley Shakespeare Conference, Vol. 4, 2011 (January 2013).

Invited Contributions

“Taylor Swift, Fearless (Taylor’s Version). In Bloomsbury Contemporary Aesthetics Library, Ed. Darren Hudson Hick (Bloomsbury Philosophy Library, 2023).

Book Reviews

“Review of Magnus, P.D., A Philosophy of Cover Songs. Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, forthcoming.

“Review of Nanay, Bence, Aesthetics: A Very Short Introduction. Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Vol. 79, No. 3 (Summer 2021).

“Review of Trivedi, Saam, Imagination, Music, and the Emotions: A Philosophical Study.” Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Vol. 78, No. 1 (Winter 2020).

Public Philosophy

“Teaching Global Aesthetics” (co-authored With Elizabeth Scarbrough). American Society for Aesthetics Newsletter, Vol. 42, No. 2 (Summer 2022), 1–3. 

“Game Spectation as Shared Experience.” In Let’s Play and Twitch: Where Voyeurism Meets Gaming, Edited By C. Thi Nguyen and Brandon Polite, Aesthetics for Birds, online August 11, 2022.

“Five Strategies for Arguing About Art on the Internet” (co-authored With Matt Strohl). Edited By Alex King, Aesthetics for Birds, online March 23, 2021.

“Arguing About Art on the Internet, Part 1: Why We Do It, and Why It often Goes Badly” (co-authored with Matt Strohl). Edited By Alex King, Aesthetics for Birds, online September 9, 2020.

Invited Presentations

“Taylor Swift and The Philosophy of Re-Recording”:

  • Purdue Normativity and Cognitions Lab. Purdue University. December 2022.
  • Furman University. March 2023.
  • University of Georgia. March 2023.
  • Aesthetics Work Group. College of Charleston. March 2023. 

“The Ethics of Re-Recordings.” American Society for Aesthetics Virtual Summer Aesthetics Festival. Sponsored by the University at Albany. Online, June 2022. 

“The Fine Art of Sonic Duplication.” The Aesthetics Research Seminar. Uppsala University. Online, September 2021.

Conference Presentations

“Social Gaming and the Shared Experience of Agency” (Panel on Voyeur Gaming). American Society for Aesthetics, Annual Meeting. Montreal, November 2021.

“Infomercials and the Junk Aesthetics of Consumerism” (With John Dyck). American Society for Aesthetics Rocky Mountain Division, Annual Meeting. Santa Fe, July 2021.

“Vinyl, Album Covers, and the Continuum of Touch.” American Society for Aesthetics Eastern Division, Annual Meeting. Online, April 2021.

“Epistemic Humility and the Limits of Aesthetic Autonomy.” American Society for Aesthetics 78th Annual Meeting. Online, November 2020.

“Vinylphile Aesthetics.” Royal Musical Association Music and Philosophy Study Group, Biennial Conference. King’s College London, July 2019.

“Musical Kinds as Social Kinds: Or, There’s More Than One Way to Rock.” Essence and Context: A Conference Between Music and Philosophy. The Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre. Vilnius, Lithuania, September 2016.

“Shared Musical Experiences.” Royal Musical Association Music and Philosophy Study Group, Annual Conference. King’s College London, July 2015.

“The Varieties of Musical Experience.” Aesthetic Experience and Somaesthetics Conference. Eötvös Lorand University, Budapest, June 2014.

“Musical Representation and Unexploited Content.” American Society for Aesthetics Eastern Division, Annual Meeting. Philadelphia, March 2014.

“Music and The Embodied Ear: Against Musical Purism.” Cave Hill Philosophy Symposium, Conversations IX: Grounding Aesthetics. The University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, Barbados. November 2013.

“Prelude To A Theory of Musical Representation.” Pacific Division American Philosophical Association, Annual Meeting. San Francisco, March 2013.

“Prelude To A Theory of Musical Representation.” Illinois Philosophical Association, Annual Meeting. University of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign, November 2012.

“Making Sense of Music.” The Philosophy of Performance: Art in Modern Society Conference. University of Notre Dame, April 2012.

“Tortured Calculations: Body Economies in Shakespeare’s Cultures of Honor.” Ohio Valley Shakespeare Conference, Annual Meeting. Michigan State University, November 2011.

Professional Commentary

“Hip as Aesthetic Property” by Saul Fisher. American Society for Aesthetics, Annual Meeting. Portland, OR, November 2022.

Comments on papers by Christopher Bartel, James Harold, and Nicholas Whittaker. ASA (“When Bad People Make Good Art”) Session. APA Pacific Division, Annual Meeting. Vancouver, April 2022.

“Autonomy and Aesthetic Engagement” by C. Thi Nguyen. American Society for Aesthetics, Annual Meeting. Phoenix, October 2019.

“Indifference Realism About Music” by Anton Killin. American Society for Aesthetics Eastern Division, Annual Meeting. Philadelphia, April 2019.

“Two Theories of Emotional Expression in Music” by Philip Jenkins. American Society for Aesthetics Eastern Division, Annual Meeting. Philadelphia, April 2018.

“Music and Vague Existence” by David Friedell. Apa Central Division, Annual Meeting. Kansas City, March 2017.

Professional Organizations

  • American Society for Aesthetics
  • British Society for Aesthetics
  • ​American Philosophical Association

Professional Service

Trustee. American Society for Aesthetics. Feb. 2023–Jan. 2026.


Knox College Faculty Exceptional Achievement Award, 2021–2022.

Campus & Community Involvement

  • Member, Knox College First-Year Preceptorial Steering Committee, 2012-present.
  • Member, Knox College Religious Studies Program Committee, 2012-present.
  • Faculty editor, The McNair Journal of Multidisciplinary Research, Knox College, 2011-present.
  • Faculty advisor, Knox College Philosophy Club, 2010-present. 
  • Faculty advisor, Knox College Improv Club, 2010-present.
  • Faculty advisor, Interfraternity Council of Knox College, 2010-present.
  • Chapter advisor, Delta Chapter of Tau Kappa Epsilon, 2010-present.

What Students Say
"Professor Polite has the rare ability as a professor to make you feel like you are talking with him one-on-one even when you are in a full class. His real-world examples of philosophical problems will make you laugh, not just because they are hilarious, but because at the same time they clarify those problems and reveal their relevance to your own life. Having been a student and a TA for Brandon, I have seldom seen a professor as effective at making philosophy accessible and exciting to every kind of student."
-Samuel Brownson, Philosophy Major and Sociology Minor

"Studying and working with Brandon Polite is so enjoyable, one easily forgets that there is learning or work involved. He approaches teaching with a gifted mind and great affability that renders the most intimidating of texts understandable. After class, he is always available to answer questions or extend a classroom discussion. He also works closely with students on the development and fruition of their ideas, providing them multiple opportunities for success. His passion, both for Philosophy and for puns, leaves a fond and lasting impression."
-Lauren Assaf, English Literature Major and Japanese and Philosophy Minor

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Printed on Sunday, April 21, 2024