Comparative Literature and the Public Sphere
Interpreting art, appreciating its power to shape the world, can spur and support urgently needed change. This is not a deviation from humanistic attention to the mechanisms of art production and reception. It is a corollary and a homecoming to civic education.
Acknowledging art’s work makes us cultural agents: those who make, comment, buy, sell, reflect, allocate, decorate, vote, don’t vote, or otherwise lead social, culturally constructed lives. Social change begins with incremental work to change hearts and mind, what the Enlightenment called taste or aesthetic judgment.