Beauty and Social Justice
Press release issued: 16 October 2006
If goodness is traditionally allied to Beauty, then does it follow that ugliness is a sign of being bad? This and other questions are raised by the leading American thinker Elaine Scarry who will be giving a talk at Bristol University next week.
If goodness is traditionally allied to Beauty, then does it follow that ugliness is a sign of being bad? This and other questions are raised by the leading American thinker Elaine Scarry, author of On Beauty and Being Just, who will be giving a talk at Bristol University next week.
The free lecture, entitled ‘Beauty and Social Justice’ takes place on Monday 23 October at 5.15 pm in Lecture Theatre 2, 11 Woodland Rd, Bristol (entrance at rear of 21 Woodland Rd). The lecture will be followed by a drinks reception.
Elaine Scarry teaches in the English department of Harvard University where she is Walter M. Cabot Professor of Aesthetics and the General Theory of Value. She is the author of The Body in Pain, Resisting Representation and Dreaming by the Book, as well as many articles on war and social contract.
In On Beauty and Being Just, her most recent book, Professor Scarry asks if we have become beauty blind. She argues that, contrary to much modern thinking, our responses to beauty are perceptual events of profound significance for the individual and for society. Presenting us with a rare and exceptional opportunity to witness fairness, beauty assists us in our attention to justice. She argues that admiring the beautiful is nothing to be ashamed of; that on the contrary beauty fosters the spirit of justice.
Professor Scarry will pursue these arguments in this important public lecture, organised by Bristol Institute for Research in the Humanities and Arts (BIRTHA).
There will be a further opportunity to hear this leading American thinker and public intellectual at the Arnolfini on Tuesday 24 October at 6.30pm when she will be in conversation with Mark Cousins, Director of General Studies at the Architectural Association and Visiting Professor of Architecture at Columbia University.
While Scarry's On Beauty and Being Just re-asserts a link between Beauty and justice, Cousins' series of essays on The Ugly argues that the idealisation of Beauty acts as an authorization of exclusion.
This event is being presented to tie in with the current Arnolfini exhibition: Albert Oehlen’s I Will Always Champion Bad Painting. Oehlen has always been interested in what it is to make a ‘bad’ painting and for the last 25 years has made works that push the boundaries of critical judgement.
If you would like to attend the free lecture please contact Samantha Barlow at BIRTHA on 0117 928 8892 or Sam.Barlow@bristol.ac.uk
Tickets for this event are available from Arnolfini on: 0117 917 2300 / 01 (phone lines open from 9.30am - 9.30pm daily) Tickets cost £3.00/£2.00