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Grant number: AQ-228974-15

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Middlebury College (Middlebury, VT 05753-6004)
Cynthia Dee Packert (Project Director: September 2014 to present)

NEH Enduring Questions Course on Conceptions of Beauty

The development and teaching of a new first-year seminar on cross-cultural conceptions of beauty.

Is beauty in the eye of the beholder? The proposed new course will consider selected Asian and Islamic artworks in the Middlebury College Museum of Art???s permanent collection to explore this fundamental question. When and how does a material work of art become exalted as a thing of beauty and emotional or spiritual transformation? Are standards in beauty universal, or are they always relative? What must we know to recognize and understand the powerful beauty of art from a different culture? How do we develop our own aesthetic norms and standards of beauty? Why, indeed, do we value beauty in art? Conversely, when and why is a work of art not beautiful? Through an intensive combination of close looking, critical analysis, and comparative consideration of diverse artworks and aesthetic traditions, students will ask how the act of beholding is entwined with cultural assumptions and conditioning and address those preconceptions by focusing on specific Asian and Islamic works.

Project fields:
Art History and Criticism

Enduring Questions: Pilot Course Grants

Education Programs

Total amounts:
$22,000 (approved)
$22,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2015 – 5/31/2018