Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Marc W. Roche, Professor of German Language and Literature and Concurrent Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana, addressed a large audience on the topic of "History and Forms of Beautiful Ugliness."

Roche is currently writing a book on the aesthetics of the ugly as opposed to the beautiful. In his talk, he contrasted physical with moral ugliness, drawing examples from the fields of literature, art, and film. Beginning with Homer in the ancient world, through the Middle Ages, and up until modernity, he reconstructed the history, development, and forms of ugliness, while also referring to contemporary depictions of ugliness, as for example in the movies of Quentin Tarantino and Michael Haneke.

Roche pointed out that nowadays ugliness is possible in every form due to a general shift in aesthetic values: harmony and beauty are no longer privileged over asymmetry and ugliness. Although he acknowledges that beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder, Roche encouraged the audience to look beyond appearances and called for a greater elasticity of the concept of ugliness. Afterthe talk the audience used the opportunity to engage in alively discussion with the lecturer.

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