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What is it that makes something beautiful? Although the universality of this experience is obvious, most people do not realize the complexities and implications of beauty. Because beauty is not part of contemporary critical talk, and is actually denounced, Wendy Steiner attempts to bring the concept back as a producer of an empathetic relationship in Venus in Exile. She exemplifies how the recognition of beauty of women in art has become transformed into something perverse, ultimately resulting in the view of women as possessions and sex objects. The underlying catalyst for this fetishized image of women rests in Sigmund Freudâs attribution to the basis of religion: the Oceanic Feeling. In my thesis, I will utilize Charles Baudelaire's "Beauty" to demonstrate that this limitless and unbounded sensation destroys the experience and power of beauty to fabricate empathy.

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Project Designation

Honors Thesis

Primary Advisor

Andrew Slade

Primary Advisor's Department



Stander Symposium poster

The Empathetic Experience of Beauty