Donald Keefer

Donald Keefer joined the RISD faculty in 1988 with a PhD in philosophy from Temple University. His variety of courses have covered the history of philosophy, aesthetics, theories of semiotics, the nature of wisdom and philosophical questions regarding death, dying and the dead. On a lighter note, he teaches a Wintersession course that uses episodes of the X-files and Star Trek as vehicles to introduce students to the problems of philosophy. He has written on topics ranging from the aesthetics of music, technology and culture to the critique of postmodern theory, semiotics of design, Frederick Douglass and, most recently, the philosophy of death.

Keefer is currently writing a book examining the philosophical dimensions of loss and mourning. His paper, “Speaking Well of the Dead: On the aesthetics of eulogies,” forthcoming in Sophia International Journal for Philosophy of Religion, Metaphysical Theology and Ethics, emerged from one of the key issues in a chapter on the meanings of how we mourn the loss of those important to us. He is also an accomplished classical guitarist.

Academic research/areas of interest


  • Philosophy of Death
  • Ethics and the Contradictions of Corporate Personhood
  • The Confluence of Evolutionary Psychology and Philosophy
  • Aesthetics
  • Linguistics and Theories of the Sign
  • American Pragmatism

    Fall 2017 Courses

  • HPSS-S070-02 Aesthetic Challenges
  • HPSS-S526-01 Sem: Philosophy Of Death

    Wintersession 2018 Courses

  • HPSS-S157-01 You Must Be Joking! The Philosophy Of Laughter

    Spring 2018 Courses

  • HPSS-S450-01 Sem: Matrix Of Wisdom: Philosophy & Sci-fi
  • HPSS-S101-20 Topics: History, Philosophy, & The Social Sciences
  • BA, University of Maryland - Baltimore
  • BA, University of Maryland, College Park
  • PHD, Temple University

Departments

Apparel Design Architecture Ceramics Digital + Media Experimental and Foundation Studies Film / Animation / Video Furniture Design Glass Graduate Studies Graphic Design History of Art + Visual Culture History, Philosophy + the Social Sciences Illustration Industrial Design Interior Architecture Jewelry + Metalsmithing Landscape Architecture Literary Arts + Studies Painting Photography Printmaking Sculpture Teaching + Learning in Art + Design Textiles