Knox alumna Mrinalini Chakraborty '12, national field coordinator for the Women’s March, was recently intervi...
Brandon E. Polite
Associate Professor of Philosophy
2 East South Street
Galesburg, IL 61401-4999
Assistant Professor of Philosophy
At Knox Since: 2007
Describe your current research or creative work. What is most interesting about this work?
I work in Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art. Recently, I've been exploring art's relationship to lived experience in two separate projects. In the first, I'm examining some of the various contexts in which we experience music, such as attending a rock concert or dancing with a partner, and how they affect our experience of music. In the second, I'm examining how stand-up comedy, as an art that involves selectively crafting and presenting a version of oneself to an audience, compares to how we selectively craft and present ourselves in our daily interactions with others.
How do your students impact your research or creative work?
There is nothing more important for a philosopher than to talk ideas through with interested and intelligent people. And Knox students fit that description. Students regularly offer novel insights into texts and issues I've been dealing with for a long time, which give me new ways to think about them. In response to such insights during class discussions, I have talked myself into a position that I have then gone on to develop into a publication.
What drew you to Knox College?
When I was a student here, and it became clear that I would be pursuing a postgraduate degree in philosophy, my goal was to end up teaching at someplace like Knox—a place that encouraged thinking about big ideas, but that was small enough to allow the sort of close relationships between students and faculty that made doing so valuable for both. It turns out there's no place more like Knox than Knox.
How would you describe academic life at Knox?
One word: Surprising. It's really hard to predict what our students are going to say about almost anything—because of their diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and interests—other than it's probably going to be worth thinking about further. I threw out rigid lesson plans very soon after I started teaching here to allow for the sort of spontaneous eruption of insight that both keeps texts fresh for me (and me on my toes!) and shows students the value that a life of the mind has to offer.
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