Conference at Yale Considers the Fate of the Beautiful

At a conference to be held on March 29-30 at Yale University’s Whitney Humanities Center, 53 Wall Street, poets and scholars will meet to ponder the ways in which beauty can be judged and described.

Titled “The Future of the Aesthetic,” the conference will focus particularly on how the concept of the aesthetic has been interpreted in recent decades and how it is likely to be regarded among intellectuals and educators in years to come.

The notion that beauty is an inherent quality, not an artificial construct, has had more critics than defenders in recent years.

The long prevailing concept of “aesthetic disinterestedness,” the capacity for judging beauty objectively with a separate faculty of the mind, came increasingly under fire from academics and artists themselves during the last century, when aesthetic judgment came to be widely suspected of harboring hidden political or moral agendas and biases.

“Nonetheless, the aesthetic has had a few emerging champions in recent years, several of whom will be here alongside those who still skeptically resist the siren call of beauty,” said conference organizer Paul H. Fry, the William Lampson Professor of English.

The conference will be divided into four separate panel discussions over two days: “Aesthetics and Politics,” “Aesthetics and Ethics,” “Aesthetic Education” and “The Aesthetic Impulse.”

Among the participants will be Robert Pinsky, Elaine Scarry, Susan Stewart, Frank Bidart and Frances Ferguson.

The conference, which is free and open to the public, will go from 2:45 p.m., Friday, to 6 p.m., Saturday. For more information, contact Manana Sikic at 203 432-0673.

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Dorie Baker:, 203-432-1345