"Du Bois's Darkwater Aesthetics: Beauty in the Perspective of the Veiled Corner"
In this lecture I explore Du Bois’s analysis of the nature of beauty in Darkwater (1920), a deceptively accessible book that comprises a credo, a postscript, and a litany, as well as essays, stories, and poems. I begin by asking, What about beauty interests Du Bois? What about the phenomenon of beauty is salient for him, and why is what is salient for him salient for him? Answering these questions enables us to see the distinctive point of Du Bois’s philosophical inquiry into the nature of beauty. My interpretation of Du Bois’s analysis highlights his emphasis on the idea of a beautiful life, and on the connection he draws between beauty and death.