By Assistant Professor Angelia Poon, English Language and Literature Academic Group
NIE's Overseas Graduate Scholar, Ms Suzanne Choo, from the English Language and Literature Academic Group studying at Teachers College, Columbia University, has won the 2010 International Award for Excellence presented by the Humanities Journal for her article, "Cultivating Moral Sensibilities through Aesthetic Education: The Power of Everyday Cosmopolitanism".
Among all the papers published by the Journal in 2010, Suzanne's paper was selected as the winning article by the Journal's International Advisory Board. As a result of her win, Suzanne has been invited to present a plenary session at the Ninth International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities this summer in Granada, Spain. This is an annual award presented by the Journal in the area of new directions in humanities.
In her paper, Suzanne starts with the brutal reality of the Holocaust and examines the startling paradox in Immanuel Kant's claim that exposure to the beautiful can cultivate moral sensibilities. She then proceeds to argue that Kant's aesthetic grounding in subjective universality not only rationalises how the beautiful can foster an attunement towards moral purposes, it also highlights how the transition from sensible to supersensible can be obstructed when it is not framed by disinterestedness. This then provides powerful implications for the mediation of aesthetic education as a catalyst in facilitating the symbolic transition from engaging in the beautiful to engaging in moral contemplation. At the same time, such a transition presents a dilemma for aesthetic education since it seems inconceivable to argue that the cultivation of aesthetic judgement in the artificial setting of a classroom should be driven purely by disinterestedness.
Suzanne is currently writing her PhD dissertation entitled, "Reading the World, the Globe, and the Cosmos: The Role of Literature in the Education for Twenty-first Century Citizenship Capacities". A historical case study meant to explore literature education's role in the education for twenty-first century citizenship capacities, the study begins with case studies of current classrooms in New York, Singapore, and Western Australia. It aims to theorise a role for literature education that is informed by a history of the field and we look forward to even more significant contributions from this outstanding NIE Graduate Scholar.