This Intellectual Publics event is organized around the question, "why beauty?" The question is posed as an invitation to consider the itineraries of beauty as a persistent term of culture and criticism. Drawing on their current research projects and in conversation with each other, Mimi Thi Nguyen and Kandice Chuh will offer some coordinates for using and pursuing beauty. What are the stakes in the conceptualization as well as mobilization of beauty in both academic registers and broader culture and politics? What can debates over the meaningfulness of beauty and "the beautiful" illuminate regarding the integral place of aesthetics in social formation? In what ways might beauty act to key critical inquiry into processes by which race, gender, sexuality, indigeneity, and other categories of "difference" continue to index material conditions of life and history? What happens to beauty when it is unmoored from the confines of discourses of art, literature, aesthetics, and allowed to circulate across the broad and diverse terrain of knowing production and pedagogical practice? What are the valences and connotative meanings of beauty -- and what terms are generatively constellated with and around it? This event, in short, affords the occasion to think specifically "about" beauty, and to reflect critically on the means and methods of cultural criticism.