At the beginning of each semester, I sit my students down, turn off the classroom lights, and have them watch Why Beauty Matters, a 2009 bbc documentary written and narrated by the late philosopher Roger Scruton. In the video, Scruton ponders the fate of art and architecture since the advent of modernism and offers counsel on how art can reclaim its purchase on the beautiful. The young artists in my class invariably dismiss Scruton’s opinions and ideas: the musings of an old white man—British, too!—are deemed woefully out-of-touch. The observations and prescriptions stated in Why Beauty Matters are open to debate, but students do find themselves taken aback when Scruton speaks about how “creativity is about sharing” and “art is...


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