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USF-St. Petersburg



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    The History of Beauty

    Part 2

    Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7 | Week 8


    Week 5 -- February 6, 1996

    Required Reading:

    William Hogarth, Analysis of Beauty, pp. xvi-xx; 13-39 (Xerox on Reserve)

    Edmund Burke, A Philosophical Enquiry, pp. 1-26; 29-50; 83-114 [Introduction: On Taste, Part One and Part Three]

    Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, (selection in Selected Readings plus 3 pages)

    Recommended:

    Mary Bittner Wiseman, "Beautiful Exiles" in Hein/Korsemeyer pp. 169-178.

    [This brief article offers a fascinating summary of Kant's early concepts of the sublime and the beautiful which holds many similarities with Burke's.]

    Perspectives on Beauty: The Artist, the Empiricist, the Feminist

    The writings for this week share an interest in understanding the mystery of beauty, but each author approaches from the specific perspective informed by his or her position in society. All agree that the female figure epitomizes beauty both in form and in character. They disagree, as one might expect, as to the nature and implications of that beauty. As you read consider how each author grounds his or her argument and how he or she tests the observations. In other words, how does each constitute truth?


    Week 6: Feb. 13, 1996

    Required Reading:

    Immanuel Kant, from The Critique of Judgment pp 277-307, 312-322, 327-331 ([[section]] 53) in Hofstadter and Kuhns.

    Selected Poems: (* indicates optional)

    Lord Byron: "I would I were a Careless Child,"* "She Walks in Beauty," "'Oh Snatch'd Away in Beauty's Bloom',"* "Stanzas for Music -- 'They say that Hope is Happiness',"* "Stanzas for Music -- 'There's not a joy'," "Stanzas for Music -- 'There be none of Beauty's daughters',"* "On this day I complete my Thirty Sixth Year"

    Percy Bysshe Shelley: "Hymn to Intellectual Beauty," "To A Skylark," "To --- 'I fear thy kisses',"* "To --- 'Music when soft voices die',"* "To Jane: The Invitation," "To Jane: The Recollection"*

    John Keats: "The Eve of St. Agnes," "Ode to a Nightingale," "Ode on a Grecian Urn," "Fancy,"* "To Autumn,"* "La Belle Dame sans Merci,"* "Why Did I laugh tonight"*

    Recommended:

    Dickie, reread esp. pp. 26-30.

    Sheppard, reread pp. 65-75 on Kant.

    Related:

    Josephine Donovan, "Everyday Use and Moments of Being: Toward a Nondominative Aesthetic" in Hein/Korsmeyer pp. 53-67.

    Amy Newman, "Discipline and Silence: Women and Imagination in Kant's Theory of Taste" in Hein/Korsmeyer pp. 179-192.

    Kant and Romantic Poetry: How we know Beauty

    By now you should have read some commentary on Kant, and I advise you to reread Dickie and Sheppard as well as the headnote in Hofstadter and Kuhns before you begin to read Kant himself. Be aware that instead of defining beauty, Kant is interested in how we know beauty and what the limits of our knowledge are. The Romantic poets of Britain were in many ways influenced by philosophical theories of beauty from Plato to Kant and more. This is especially true of Shelley, the most learned of the three we are reading for this week. I have asked you to read three poems by each author and to select whatever others interest you. Kant believed that of all the arts poetry was the highest because it had the greatest range for the representation of aesthetical ideas and the stimulation of pleasure. Poets, he contends, create through genius. We will test his ideas against some the best Romantic poems.


    Week 7: Feb. 20, 1996

    Required Reading:

    Edgar Allen Poe, "The Raven," "Philosophy of Composition," in Selected Readings

    Lois Banner, chaps. from American Beauty (xerox on reserve)

    Emily Dickinson, Selected Poems

    Aesthetics meets Cosmetics in Nineteenth-Century America

    The readings for today bring to focus the cultural and aesthetic values of the new world of America. In Poe we find the American artist consciously constructing his craft. He provides interesting insights into his society when he claims that the death of a beautiful woman is the most poetical subject in the world. Lois Banner, a contemporary historian, examines the practices and values of beauty, especially as they relate to the nineteenth-century American woman, and the historical documents she analyzes provide useful information for understanding both Poe and Dickinson. Emily Dickinson is one of the foremost nineteenth-century American poets, and the first female poet we will read in the class. While her art seems to have little in common with the mainstream poetics of her era, she records and analyzes her society, often in stunningly beautiful lyrics.

    ** Recommended reading strategy -- Banner can be read before or after either of the poets; read "The Raven" before "Philosophy of Composition" and then return to "The Raven"; savor Dickinson for last.


    Week 8: Feb. 20, 1996

    Required Reading:

    John Ruskin "Greatness in Art" and "Ideas of Truth, Beauty and Relation" from Modern Painters I, and "The Relation of Art to Morals" from Lectures on Art" in Selected Readings.

    William Morris, "The Beauty of Life," from Hopes and Fears for Art in Selected Readings

    Walter Pater, preface, La Gioconda, conclusion from The Renaissance in Selected Readings

    Henry James, "The Real Thing," in Selected Readings

    Christina Rossetti, "Goblin Market"

    Recommended:

    Walter Pater, "Romanticism," from Appreciations, in Selected Readings

    Related:

    Linda Nochlin, "Lost and Found: Once more the Fallen Woman," Art Bulletin, March 1978: 139-153, xerox

    Aestheticism, Pre-Raphaelites and Class Structure The readings for today share the fact that they were published in the last half of the nineteenth century, primarily in England. They each reflect in their own way the culture's concentrated interest in beauty and aesthetic appreciation. They also engage the pressing social issues of the day (with the exception, perhaps, of Pater -- who actually becomes the focus of a pressing social issue). Concerns over poverty, class consciousness, moral and ethical behavior, luxury and social responsibility, prostitution, and respect for humanity enter into the discussion of beauty.


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