Research Seminar: Beauty, Ugliness, & the Psychology of Aesthetics

Research Seminar: Beauty, Ugliness, & the Psychology of Aesthetics

Research Seminar, November 15th, 2011: Dr Carolynn Burdett, ‘Miming, Breathing, Balancing: the art of empathy and the Victorian fin de siècle’. I’ll begin at the end, if you will allow.  Dr Carolynn Burdett’s intriguing seminar had finished.  In it, she had discussed the research of Vernon Lee.  In a radical enterprise exploring aesthetics, Lee travelled Europe with her cohort (which seems a reasonable descriptor after hearing of their experiences; companion or lover doesn’t seem appropriate somehow) Kit Anstruther-Thomson, recording physical responses to art.  My mind was racing.  The question of how we react to art, or beauty and ugliness, was central to both Dr Burdett’s paper and Lee’s research, and something in particular Dr Burdett said played on my mind: ‘interacting with art should be hard work’ (I’m paraphrasing here).  It would be easy, wouldn’t it, to stroll around a gallery muttering ‘that’s nice’ or ‘I don’t get that’, but what if we really looked.  Stopped.  And looked.  With intent.  How...
Read More