Aili Bresnahan

Assistant Professor; Humanities Commons Coordinator

Full-Time Faculty


Dr. Bresnahan specializes in Aesthetics, particularly in contemporary philosophy of art, including dance, theatre and performance. She is the Humanities Commons Coordinator, and is a member of the Philosophy Department Advisory committee and the CAS Prelaw committee. Her service to the profession includes reviewing articles for academic journals, serving as the Vice-Chair for the Diversity Committee of the American Society for Aesthetics, being Aesthetics Editor for The Philosophers' Magazine, and founding and moderating the DancePhilosophers Google group. She has been a faculty member at UD since 2012.


  • Ph.D., Philosophy, Temple University
  • J.D., Law, Georgetown University Law Center
  • B.A., Philosophy, Columbia University

Research Interests

  • Aesthetics
  • American Pragmatism
  • Philosophy of law and culture as it pertains to the arts

Selected Publications

[Forthcoming in 2018–in press] “Dance Rhythm.” In The Aesthetics of Rhythm : Science, Philosophy, Music, Dance, Poetics, edited by Andy Hamilton and Max Paddison. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

[Forthcoming in 2018] with Michael Deckard. “Beauty in Disability: An Aesthetics for Dance and for Life.” In Dance and Quality of Life, Social Indicators Research Series, edited by Karen E. Bond and Sally M. Gardner. Netherlands: Springer.

“Dance Appreciation: The View from the Audience.” In Aesthetics: A Reader in the Philosophy of the Arts, 4th edition, 347-350, edited by David Goldblatt, Lee Brown, and Stephanie Patridge. New York: Routledge, 2017.

“Dancing in Time.” In The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Temporal Experience, 339-348, edited by Ian Phillips. London: Routledge, 2017.

“The Philosophy of Dance,” in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Edward N. Zalta (principal editor),, first published January 12, 2015.

“Improvisational Artistry in Live Dance Performance As Embodied and Extended Agency.” Dance Research Journal 46, No. 1 (April 2014): 84-94. Publisher: Cambridge University Press.

For full list and text of my publications see

Selected Presentations

Invited Lectures, Aesthetics Forum, Institute for Logic, Cognition, Language, and Information (ILCLI), University of the Basque Country, Donostia-San Sebastián, Spain (June 2017): "Improvising Dance" (first day), and "Interpretation in Dance Performing" (second day).

Invited Lecture, Dialogues on Dance, Philosophy, and Performance in the Contemporary Neoliberal Moment Conference, University of Coventry, UK (June 2017): "Dancing Together: How Dance Involves Lived, Shared, and Interconnected Experience." Organized by the University of Coventry, the University of Brunel (London), the Performance Philosophy Institute (Surrey), and supported by the British Society for Aesthetics.

Invited Lecture and Seminar Workshop, Rutgers University Dance Department MFA Program, Mason Gross School of the Arts, New Brunswick, NJ (March 2017): "The Aesthetics of Dance Improvisation: A Challenge for Philosophy." Co-sponsored by the Rutgers Philosophy Department and by the Center for Women in the Arts and Humanities. Here I provided a public address and then held a seminar the next day with the Rutgers Dance Department MFA program students.