Monday, April 21, 2008
Green-Lewis, Jennifer, et al. "Teaching Beauty." INSIDE HIGHER ED April 21, 2008.
Alexander Nehamas says that beauty of any kind is “a call to look more attentively.” Readers of poetry, lovers of music, gardeners gardening — all people who engage actively with beauty by paying close and lasting attention to it know this to be true. Yet because, in recent decades, we have misperceived the value of beauty, literary scholars have neglected the crucial work of thinking through our relationship with beautiful forms, and have failed to teach our students about the way that relationship sustains and enlightens us. Who would ever enter a classroom and invite their students to consider the beauty of a work because, as Nicolas Malebranche puts it, “Attentiveness is the natural prayer of the soul"? The word “soul” doesn’t get much exercise in English departments any more, and neither do concepts associated with it — inspiration, consolation, communality, transcendence, love. What do these have to do nowadays with the study of literature? In our public neglect of such concepts in favor of the political and the material, our answer is clear: nothing. . . . Read the rest here: http://insidehighered.com/views/2008/04/21/beauty.