Department ofPolitical Science


Timothy J. Lukes Publishes New Book, Politics and Beauty in America

In Politics and Beauty in America Timothy J. Lukes examines the intersection of two expansive domains. He is not the first to take up this task, but his quest to avoid reducing either politics to aesthetics or the reverse, makes his work rare indeed. Lukes is concerned with beauty and its vicissitudes as it goes from being something we discover and explore to being something we adapt and use. His arguments are learned, subtle and deep, as he makes the case that we diminish, indeed risk altogether losing, aspects of beauty--its ability to elicit passion, its inaccessibility, its permanence--when we deploy it for pragmatic purposes. Lukes provides ballast for his theoretical argument by offering detailed discussions of the different ways beauty has been used in influential portrayals of “women, wilderness and automobiles” in American culture. This is a remarkable work, one to be grappled with--not least by those like myself whose views it unsettles.”

James Johnson, Professor of Political Science, University of Rochester, author of The Priority of Democracy (Princeton University Press) and 2004-2009 member of the Editorial Board of the American Political Science Review.