Beauty is mesmerizing. It captures our attention, fuels our imagination and leads us to risk our money, our time, our energy, our values, and even on occasion, our lives in its pursuit. Yet despite its influence and power, we rarely sit back and consider the nature of beauty. What is beauty? Where is it to be found? And why is it so captivating? To a great extent, beauty remains to us a mystery.
This course explores the answers to these questions offered by central figures in the history of aesthetics including Plato, Kant, Tolstoy, Bell, Benjamin, Danto and Bourdieu. In the course of this investigation students consider how beauty is constructed, how it is appreciated and why it is of such importance to us. What is the purpose or goal of creating a work of art? How do artists transform their ideas of/about beauty onto a canvas or into a poem? How do they judge the success or failure of their own works? Is beauty really in the eye of the beholder? How do we judge works of art? How do we address difference and diversity in the interpretation of artworks? Reflecting on these issues, students apply the theoretical ideas/concepts developed in the lectures and readings to works of art from the fields of fine art, music, film, architecture and literature.