College of Arts and Sciences

Renaissance Studies


What Was Beauty? (poster PDF)
Friday, October 21, 2016, 2:30 - 5:30pm
University Club, IMU


2:30–3:30 p.m., Keynote lecture by Michael Cole (Art History, Columbia University): “Sofonisba Anguissola’s Beauty”
3:30–4:30 p.m., Keynote lecture by Lydia Goehr (Philosophy, Columbia University): “On beauty’s moralizing moods”
4:30–5:30 p.m., Roundtable with three IU faculty members who will each bring in an object of beauty from the past for us all to consider together

  • Marco Arnaudo (French and Italian): “The Shape of Almost Nothing”
  • Kristina Muxfeldt (Musicology): “Ephemeral Beauty, Baroque Musings in a Schubert Song”
  • Sonia Velázquez (Religious Studies / Comparative Literature): “On Silk, Leather, Saints and Letters”
5:30p.m., Reception

Michael Cole, “Sofonisba Anguissola’s Beauty”
Abstract: For decades, beauty has been central to the discourse on Renaissance portraiture, and we now have a sense of the norms and standards that artists followed when painting faces. But to what degree was it possible to resist conforming to beauty’s rule when making a portrait? What values might patrons and artists have pursued that stood at odds with the principles of beauty? This lecture suggests that the work of Sofonisba Anguissola is a particular rich place to pose these questions.

Michael W. Cole is Department Chair of Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University. His recent books include Ambitious Form: Giambologna, Ammanati and Danti in Florence (Princeton, 2011); Italian Renaissance Art (with Stephen Campbell, Thames & Hudson, 2011); Leonardo, Michelangelo and the Art of the Figure (Yale, 2014) and the catalogue he edited for the exhibition “Donatello, Michelangelo, Cellini: Sculptor’s Drawings from Renaissance Italy” (2014), which he co-curated at the Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum in Boston.

Lydia Goehr, “On beauty’s moralizing moods”
Abstract: What turns on our moving away from judging an object to be beautiful to asking what it means for persons to aspire to beauty in their lives? This lecture will survey the sort of thoughts that have inspired theorists over the centuries to prohibit our laughing at the beautiful and most especially with the ugliness of an open mouth.

Lydia Goehr is Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University. She is the author of the author of The Imaginary Museum of Musical Works: An Essay in the Philosophy of Music; The Quest for Voice: Music, Politics, and the Limits of Philosophy [essays on Richard Wagner]; Elective Affinities: Musical Essays on the History of Aesthetic Theory, and co-editor with Daniel Herwitz of The Don Giovanni Moment. Essays on the legacy of an Opera. She has written many articles on the work of Theodor W. Adorno, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and Arthur Danto. Her current book project is titled Red Sea - Red Square. Bohemian Tales of Wit and Melancholy.

This event is organized by the IU Renaissance Studies Program with support from The College of Arts and Sciences, the College Arts and Humanities Institute, Robert E. and Avis Tarrant Burke Foundation, the Themester, the Departments of Comparative Literature, French and Italian, Music Theory, Philosophy and Religious Studies, the Center for Eighteenth-Century Studies and the Medieval Studies Institute.