English 298

Collaborative Research Seminar: Beauty

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Spring 2021 Hale, Dorothy J.

Other Readings and Media

Request syllabus for course readings.  Most readings will be on b-courses.


Townsend Center Collaborative Research Seminar

Tuesdays, 3-6 PM, Geballe Room, Townsend Center (or via Zoom , TBA).  Enrollment by Application

Participating Faculty:

Jacob Dalton, South and Southeast Asian Studies, East Asian Languages and Cultures, Buddhist Studies

James Davies, Music

Dorothy Hale,  English

Victoria Kahn, Comparative Literature and English

Niklaus Largier, Comparative Literature and German

Alan Tansman, East Asian Languages and Cultures



Beauty: a topic both ubiquitous and perplexing. This Townsend Center Collaborative Research Seminar approaches beauty from multiple disciplines and through a wide variety of materials: literature, the visual and performative arts, aesthetic theory, philosophy, and religion.  Our aim is to investigate the value and function that has been assigned to beauty in different humanist contexts, to explore possible bases of commonality and influence, and to consider whether beauty has or should be a key critical term for contemporary scholarship.

In the first half of the term, the faculty seminar members will lead sessions related to their research expertise.  Topics will be drawn from readings in Plato, Kant, Tibetan Buddhism, Bach, Japanese photography, novelistic aesthetics, and others. In the second half of the term, seminar sessions will be split between invited outside speakers, whose work takes up the problem of beauty or of aesthetics more generally, and the graduate student seminar members, who will collaboratively design their own seminar sessions on topics of their choice.  Participating outside speakers include Rob Marks, Richard Moran, Jane Newman, Alex Rehding, and David Shulman.  Hannah Ginsborg will also join us for a session.

Requirements: Regular attendance and reading; the collaborative design and leadership of one seminar session; a final essay.

Application: This seminar is open to graduate students in any year of the Ph.D. program.  To apply, please submit a paragraph that describes why you are interested in joining the seminar and a list of courses that you have taken (at Berkeley or elsewhere) that might relate to the work of the seminar.  If you have other experience that is relevant, feel free to list that as well.  Please email these materials to any one of the participating faculty by December 1, 2020.  A draft syllabus can be requested by emailing a participating faculty member.

Accepted students enroll for the course through the 298 Independent Study option offered through the home departments of participating faculty.


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