Something Worth Considering...
"[M]ore and more mankind will discover that we have to turn to poetry to interpret life for us, to console us, to sustain us. Without poetry, our science will appear incomplete, and most of what now passes with us for religion and philosophy will be replaced by poetry."
— Matthew Arnold, The Study of Poetry
About My Work
In the hope of better understanding our own contemporary understanding and valuation of the arts and their relation to theology and religion, unearthing the intricacies of the relationship between art and religion as they get expressed in the art literature of the early modern period is what orients my teaching and research. My published scholarship includes studies of key aesthetico-religious issues in the early modern period, such as the role of touch in relation to architecture or the character of Renaissance storytelling and narrative in the visual arts. I am presently working on a book that examines the aesthetic significance of compassion in early modern art and art critical literature, a theme that is resurfacing in modern aesthetics in the context of wider discussions of the role and function of empathy. I am also working on a study that seeks to place the most significant art critical concept of the early modern period, the concept of grace, into its artistic, philosophical, and theological contexts.
Rebekah Smick, PhD
Associate Professor of Philosophy of Arts and Culture
BA (Brandeis University), MA (Columbia University), PhD (University of Toronto)
Rebekah Smick specializes in pre- Kantian art theory and criticism, in particular the relation of early modern visual arts theory to poetics and rhetoric in the Western tradition. Her research and teaching investigate the aesthetic values of beauty and grace in the early modern period, the link between knowledge and imagination, the aesthetic function of metaphor, and the place of compassion. She is especially interested in delineating the connections made during the early modern period between aesthetics, metaphysics, ethics, and theology. She is author of Antiquity and Its Interpreters (Cambridge UP, 2000) and is currently working on a book manuscript entitled Michelangelo’s Vatican Pietà as Image in the Theology and Aesthetics of Compassion.
Courses and Syllabi
My current and recent courses and syllabi can be found here on the ICS Course Catalogue.
Courses Taught at ICS
Christian Theologies of Art: Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox
Art, Knowledge and Virtue Ethics: The Making of Art
Grace as an Aesthetic Concept
The Aesthetics of Compassion
Beauty: Theology, Ethics, or Aesthetics?
With/out Reason: Art and Imagination in the Western Tradition
IDS: Truth in Contemporary Thought
IDS: Way, Truth, Life: (Re)Visioning Truth from the Pre-Socratics to Hegel
Theses Directed at ICS
Janet Read, "Seeing and Saying: Metaphor in Merleau-Ponty and Ricoeur," 2010