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Grant number: FB-57402-14

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Ada Cohen
Dartmouth College (Hanover, NH 03755-1808)

The Idea of Female Beauty in the Ancient Greek World

My project explores the aesthetic premises of ancient Greek culture as related to women's physical appearance and as communicated through the visual arts and material culture. Although the focus is on conceptions of beauty, attention is also paid to beauty's dialectical opposite, ugliness. Both are topics of great cultural import, not least because of their impact on gender identity formation. I explore how beauty and ugliness are described in images and texts and the interesting range of moral implications they entailed. Among the topics addressed are beauty's intersections with sexual attraction and age as well as contradictions embedded in the Greek understanding of feminine beauty. Examples are drawn from various periods of Greek art in a comparative mode and from various media, including painting, sculpture, mirrors, and jewelry. Key mythological figures and stories implicating physical appearance are examined, but anonymous figures and genre scenes are especially considered.

Project fields:
Art History and Criticism; Classics

Fellowships for College Teachers and Independent Scholars

Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2014 – 6/30/2015