CSEM / English 249


This new course, designed by professors of chemistry and literature, will explore the interdisciplinary topic of beauty,ranging from the molecular to the political levels, with considerable time spent in between on the matter of aesthetics. The arc of the conversation will occur in four stages:(1)Exploring Form: What is Beautiful; (2) Apprehending the Physical World; (3) Appreciating Beautiful Objects— What Moves Us, How and Why;
(4) The Ethical Turn: On Beauty and Being Just.

The class will draw heavily on the work of the pragmatist educator John Dewey (whose Art as Experience will be a guiding text). Selections will reach from a consideration of the beauty industry, to feminist work on standards of aesthetic evaluation (in art history, literature and film study); from debates among physicists about whether the beauty of a theory is predictive of its truth to current cognitive work on how we apprehend the beautiful; from the tradition of grand metaphysical aesthetics to the work of current aestheticians. There will also be a wide range of aesthetic objects on-and-about which we will conduct our analysis of beauty. The recent Symposium on Beauty will also be a resource for the course.

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