On Handsomeness, Considered as a Category of Aesthetics

OCT 13, 2017 | 4:00 PM



The Graduate Center
365 Fifth Avenue


4406: English Student Lounge


October 13, 2017: 4:00 PM




Jonathan Kramnick, Maynard Mack Professor of English, Yale University - This talk is about craft aesthetics and the perception of the environment in eighteenth-century poetry and prose. I discuss ideas of beauty modeled on skilled handiwork rather than passive contemplation, on touching rather than viewing one's environment. This is an aesthetics of action more than feeling, of living in a world rather than standing in judgment of it. By looking at examples from Defoe, Georgic poetry, and eighteenth-century British writings on art, I hope to show how the discipline of literary studies can contribute to a broad-based understanding of perceptual consciousness, natural and built environments, and both skilled and ethical engagement with the world.