Conversations about Beauty with Ordinary Americans

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  • Title: Conversations about Beauty with Ordinary Americans: "Somebody Loves Us All"
  • Author(s): Harvey Teres
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: The Image
  • Keywords: Beauty, Aesthetics, Oral History, Ethnography, Literary Anthropology, English, English Departments, Humanities, Beauty and Morality, Beauty and Spirituality, Beauty and Politics, The Politics of Beauty, Beauty and Community, Beauty and Citizenship, Public Humanities, Public Scholarship, Town and Gown, Ivory Tower, American Culture, Popular Culture, Syracuse, NY, Art and the Public, Public Arts, Arts and Crafts
  • Year: 2018
  • ISBN (hbk): 978-1-61229-952-5
  • ISBN (pbk): 978-1-61229-953-2
  • ISBN (pdf): 978-1-61229-954-9
  • DOI:
  • Citation: Teres, Harvey . 2018. Conversations about Beauty with Ordinary Americans: "Somebody Loves Us All". Champaign, IL: Common Ground Research Networks. doi:10.18848/978-1-61229-954-9/CGP.
  • Extent: 262 pages


This is a book about beauty. It features fourteen people from different walks of life who talk about the impact of their encounters with beauty. Though we talk about beauty all the time, we don’t discuss its effects on our private lives. The media and our consumer culture is fixated on outward beauty, and in response our schools fear that beauty and aesthetic judgment reinforces hierarchies and lead to exclusion. The conversations in this book offer a different perspective, as a waitress, an auto restorer, a ballet teacher, an exotic dancer, a labor organizer, a choir director, and others discuss how it feels to be in the presence of something beautiful: what in life prepared them for these encounters; whether beauty makes them feel part of a community, affects their morality, and can be described as religious or spiritual. These conversations describe a vital part of contemporary life that remains unexplored, until now. The people in this book speak about beauty as an indispensable blessing that provides re-creation, restoration, affirmation, and in many cases community and social engagement that a meaningful life requires. They confirm what Simone Weil once observed: “beautiful things are like tears in the surface of the world that pull us through to some vaster space.”