ICS Calendar Title: Grace as an Aesthetic Concept

ICS Course Code: ICS 220103 W15

Instructor: Dr. Rebekah Smick

Term and Year: Thursdays, 9:30am-12:30 pm, Winter 2015

Last Updated: February 24, 2015


1. Course Description

2. Reading Schedule

3. Course Objectives

4. Description and Weighting of Elements to be Evaluated

5. Required Readings

6. Some Recommended Readings

1. Course Description

For much of the Western art tradition, the concept of grace has been an important critical concept for its ability to capture the often elusive quality of artistic affect. Often referred to as the “je ne sais quoi” of art - that something extra that cannot be explained – grace even supplanted beauty for many writers (from Giorgio Vasari to Friedrich Schiller) as the highest artistic ideal. Often missing from modern analyses of the concept, however, are its theological foundations. This seminar style course will exam the concept of grace within its theological, philosophical, literary, and art theoretical contexts in an effort to understand both its historical significance and its potential usefulness for the philosophy of art today. We will look at a variety of texts (e.g. from Plato, Cicero, the Pseudo-Dionysius, Dante, John Calvin, Alexander Pope, Friedrich Schiller, Martin Heidegger) as well as works of art for which grace is an important and defining aesthetic concept.

2. Reading Schedule

1. 8 Jan


  • Heidegger, “Poetically Man Dwells”

2. 15 Jan

Rhetorical, Biblical, and Mystical Grace

  • Demetrius, On Style, III. 128-150; Dionysius of Halicarnassus, On Literary Composition, XI (121-123,135); Pliny the Elder, Chapters, XXXV, 36, 79ff; Cicero, De Oratore, I, 5, 17; Quintilian, Institutio, VI, 111, 18
  • Paul, 1 Cor. 12; Rom. 6:23
  • Plotinus, Ennead VI.7.21 and 22

3. 22 Jan

Early Christian

  • Augustine, The Confessions, Books 9, 11 and 13; De Doctrina Christiana  
  • Pseudo-Dionysius, The Celestial Hierarchy, 145-155

4. 29 Jan


Virtue and Grace

  • Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, I-II, 109, 1, 9 ad 2; 110, 1, 2 ad 2, 3 ad 3; 111, 4 and 5; 112, 1, 2

5. 5 Feb

Gratia Gratis Data

  • Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de Meun, The Romance of the Rose, 20787-21145
  • Dante, The Divine Comedy, Inferno, Cantos I and II; Purgatorio, Cantos XXX, XXXI and XXXIII; Paradiso, Cantos I, X, XVII, XVIII, XXIV, XXXIII

6. 12 Feb

The Coloured Surface

  • Baldessare Castiglione, The Book of the Courtier, 65-80
  • Ludovico Dolce, The Aretino (excerpts)

16-20 Feb

Reading Week no class

7. 26 Feb


The Living Image

  • John Calvin, Institutes, XIV, 1-15; XVII, 1-34

8. 5 Mar


  • William Shakespeare, The Tempest

9. 12 Mar


Honest Beauty

  • William Shakespeare, Hamlet

10. 19 Mar

A Grace Beyond the Reach of Art

  • Alexander Pope, An Essay on Criticism

11. 26 Mar

Weimar Classicism

  • Friedrich Schiller, On Grace and Dignity

12. 2 Apr

Romantic Grace

  • Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling, The Evolution of the Graceful in Art

13. 9 Apr

The Gift

  • Jean-Luc Marion, “Sketch”

3. Course Objectives

4. Description and Weighting of Elements to be Evaluated

5. Required Readings

Heidegger, Martin. “Poetically Man Dwells.” In Poetry, Language, Thought. Trans. Albert Hofstadter. New York: Harper and Row, 1971, pp. 213-229. [ICS Library Reserve Shelf: PN1031 .H38 1971 ; Trinity College Library: B3279 .H46 H6]

Demetrius. On Style. In Aristotle: The Poetics. Longinus: On the Sublime. Demetrius: On Style. Trans. W. Rhys Roberts. Cambridge, Mass: Loeb, 1954. [St. Michael's College 1965 ed. PA3893 .P5 1965]

Dionysius of Halicarnassus. On Literary Composition. Trans. W. Rhys Roberts. London : MacMillan, 1910. [Victoria University, Pratt Library: PA3966 .D3 1910]

Pliny the Elder. The Elder Pliny's Chapters on the History of Art. Trans. K. Jex-Blake. Chicago: Ares, 1982. [ICS Library Reserve Shelf: N5610 .P55 1896a]

Cicero. De Oratore. Trans. E.W. Sutton. Cambridge, Mass: Loeb, 1967. [Robarts Library: PA6296 .D6 1959 v.1-2 (Heinemann ed.)]

Paul, 1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 6:23  NRSV or translation of your choice

Plotinus. "Ennead VI.7.21 and 22.” The Enneads. Trans. Stephen McKenna. London: Penguin, 1991, pp. 491-492. [ICS Library Reserve Shelf: B693 .E53 M3 (1969 ed.)] ; Robarts Library: B693 .E53 M3 1991]

Augustine. The Confessions. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1997. [ICS Library Reserve Shelf: BR65 .A6 E5 1997 - located on the Reserve Shelf for “Faithful Thinking - ICS-130405-W15”] 

Augustine, On Christian Doctrine. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1958. [ICS Library Reserve Shelf: BR65 .A6551 E5] ]

Pseudo-Dionysius. Pseudo-Dionysius: The Complete Works. Trans. Colm Luibheid. New York: Paulist Press, 1987. [ICS Library Reserve Shelf: BV4495 .C5 1987]

Aquinas, Thomas. Summa Theologiae: A Concise Translation. Ed. Timothy McDermott. Methuen: Christian Classics, 1989 [ICS Library Reserve Shelf: BX1749 .T4613]

De Lorris, Guillaume and Jean de Meun. The Romance of the Rose. Trans. Charles Dahlberg. London: Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995. [ICS Library Reserve Shelf: PQ1528 .A45 2008 ; Robarts Library: PQ1528 .A43 1995X]

Dante Alighieri. The Divine Comedy. Trans. Mark Musa. London: Penguin, 1971-1984 [ICS Library Reserve Shelf: PQ4315 .M8 1984 v. 1-3]

Castiglione, Baldessare. The Book of the Courtier. Trans. George Bull. London: Penguin, 1967. [ICS Library Reserve Shelf: BJ1602 .C573]

Dolce, Ludovico. “L’Aretino.” In Dolce’s ‘Aretino’ and Venetian Art Theory of the Cinquecento. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2000. [Robarts Library: ND1130 .D65 R6 2000]

Calvin, John. Institutes of the Christian Religion. Ed. John T. McNeill. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1960. [ICS Library Reserve Shelf: BX9420 .I65 B3 1960, v.2]

Shakespeare, William. The Tempest: Third Series. Eds. A.T. Vaughan and V.M. Vaughan. London: Bloomsbury Arden Shakespeare, 2014. [Pratt Library: PR2833 .A2 V38 2011]

Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. Ed. R. Gill. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.

Pope, Alexander. An Essay on Criticism. Ed. S.L. Paul. Karnal: Siddhartha, 1998. [ICS Library Reserve Shelf: PR 3626 .A1 2010 PAMP]

Schiller, Friedrich. "On Grace and Dignity." In Schiller's "On Grace and Dignity" in its Cultural Context. Trans. Jane V. Curran and Christophe Fricker. Rochester: Camden House, 2005, pp. 123-154. [ICS Library Reserve Shelf: B3086 .S33 U2237 2005]

Schelling, Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von. "The Evolution of the Graceful in Art." On the Relation of the Plastic Arts to Nature. Ed. O.B. Hardison, Jr., In Modern Continental Literary Criticism. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1962, pp. 26-28. [St. Michael's College Library: PN501 .H27]

Marion, Jean-Luc. “Sketch of a Phenomenological Concept of the Gift.” In The Visible and the Revealed. New York: Fordham University Press, 2008. [ICS Library Reserve Shelf: B 829.5 .M35813 2008 ; Robarts Library: B829.5 .M35813 2008]

6. Some Recommended Readings

Abel, Donald C. “The Doctrine of Synergism in Gregory of Nyssa’s De Instituto Christiano. Thomist; a Speculative Quarterly Review, Vol. 45, No. 3 (July 1981), pp. 430-448. [UofT Libraries e-resource: http://go.utlib.ca/cat/7759870]

Abrams, M.H. The Mirror and the Lamp: Romantic Theory and the Critical Tradition. New York: Oxford University Press, 1953. [Robarts Library: PN769 .R7 A2]

Auksi, P. Christian Plain Style. The Evolution of a Spiritual Idea. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1995. [UofT Libraries e-resource: http://go.utlib.ca/cat/7870171]

Azoulay, V. Xénophon et les graces du pouvoir. De la “charis” au charisme. Paris: Publications de la Sorbonne, 2004. [Robarts Library: PA4497 .A96 2004]

Berger, H. Jr. The Absence of Grace. Sprezzatura and Suspicion in Two Renaissance Courtesy Books. The Book of the Courtier, Galateo. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001. [Robarts Library: PQ4080 .B47 2000X]

Blunt, Anthony. Artistic Theory in Italy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1975. [1966 edition: ICS Library Reserve Shelf: N6915 .B5 1966 ; St. Michael’s College, Kelly Library: N6915 .B5]

Bogue, Ronald. “The Meaning of Grace in Pope’s Aesthetic.” PMLA, Vol. 94, No. 3 (May, 1979), pp. 434-448. [UofT Libraries e-resource: http://go.utlib.ca/cat/7744793]

Bohning, Elizabeth. “Goethe’s and Schiller’s Interpretation of Beauty.” The German Quarterly, Vol. 22, No. 4 (Nov., 1949), pp. 185-194. [UofT Libaries e-resource: http://go.utlib.ca/cat/7711455]

Botteril, S. Dante and the Mystical Tradition. Bernard of Clairvaux in the Commedia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994. [UofT Libraries e-resource: http://go.utlib.ca/cat/8359691]

Cave, Terence. “Enargeia: Erasmus and the Rhetoric of Presence in the Sixteenth Century” L’Esprit Createur, 16/4 (1976): 5-17 [Robarts Library: PQ1 .E76]

Chiampi, James T. “The Role of Freely Bestowed Grace in Dante’s Journey of Legitimation.” Rivista di Studi Italiani. Vol. 17, No. 1 (1999), pp. 89-111. [UofT Libraries e-resource: http://go.utlib.ca/cat/8379363]

Cordner, P. “Grace and Functionality.” In British Journal of Aesthetics, 24 (1984), pp. 301-313. [UofT Libraries e-resource: http://go.utlib.ca/cat/7691248]

Didi-Huberman, G. Fra Angelico. Dissemblance et Figuration. Paris: Flammarion, 1990. [Robarts Library: ND623 .F5 D53 1990]

Garin, Eugenio. Italian Humanism: Philosophy and Civic Life in the Renaissance. Trans. Peter Munz. Oxford: Blackwell, 1965. [Victoria University, Pratt Library DG533 .G323 1965a]

Gilman, Donald. “Dramatic Debate: Vividness and Verve in Thomas More’s A Dialogue Concerning Heresies. Moreana, Vol. 40, Nos. 153-154 (March, 2003), pp. 27-47. [UofT Libraries e-resource: http://go.utlib.ca/cat/8741799]

Gilson, Etienne. Dante the Philosopher. Trans. D. Moore. London: Sheed and Ward, 1948. [Regis College Library: PQ4412 .G4513 1948]

Ginsberg, W. Dante’s Aesthetics of Being. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 1999. [Robarts Library: PQ4390 .G485 1999X]

Harrison, Verna. Grace and Human Freedom According to St. Gregory of Nyssa. Lewiston: Edwin Mellen Press, 1992. [Knox College Library: BT761.2 .H38 1992]

Hadot, Pierre. Plotinus or the Simplicity of Vision. Trans. M. Chase. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1993. [ICS Library Reserve Shelf: B693 .Z7 H3313 1998 ; PIMS: B693 .Z7 H2813 1993]

Iguchi, Atsushi. “Translating Grace: The Scalaclaustralium and A Ladder of Foure Ronges.” The Review of English Studies. New Series. Vol. 59, No. 242, pp. 659-676. [UofT Libraries e-resource: http://go.utlib.ca/cat/7750167]

Jaeger, C.S. The Origins of Courtliness. Civilizing Trends and the Formation of Courtly Ideals, 939-1210. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1985. [Trinity College Library: GT3520 .J34 1985]

Jaeger, C.S. Enchantment: On Charisma and the Sublime in the Arts of the West. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012. [Robarts Library: NX620 .J34 2012X]

Lee, R.W. Ut pictura poesis. The Humanistic Thepry of Painting. New York: Norton, 1967. [Robarts Library: PN53 .L4]


Lonergan, Bernard. Grace and Freedom: Operative Grace in the Thought of St. Thomas Aquinas. Ed. F. Crowe and R. Doran. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2000. [ICS Library Reserve Shelf: BT761.2 .L55 2000]

MacKinlay, Shane. Interpreting Excess: Jean-Luc Marion, Saturated Phenomenoa, and Hermeneutics. New York: Fordham University Press, 2010. [UofT Libaries: http://go.utlib.ca/cat/7961579]

MacLachlan, B. The Age of Grace. Charis in Early Greek Poetry. Princeton: Princeton university Press, 1993. [Robarts Library: PA3095 .M33 1993]

Mallette, Richard. “From gyves to graces: ‘Hamlet’ and free will.” The Journal of English and Germanic Philology. 93.3 (1994), pp. 336-347. [UofT Libraries e-resource: http://go.utlib.ca/cat/7724251]

Manieri, Alessandra. L’immagine poetica nella teoria degli antichi: phantasia ed enargeia. Pisa: Istituti Editoriali, 1998. [Robarts Library: PA3093 .M27 1998]

McGrath, Alister E. Iustitia Dei: A History of the Christian Doctrine of Justification. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005. [ICS Library Reserve Shelf: BT764.3 .M43 2005]

Miller, Adam. Badiou, Marion and St. Paul: Immanent Grace. London and New York: Continuum, 2008. [ICS Library Reserve Shelf: ON ORDER ; Regis College Library: BT769 .M55 2008]

Mitchell, Andrew J. “The Exposure of Grace: Dimensionality in Late Heidegger.” Research in Phenomenology. Vol. 40, No. 3 (2010), pp. 309-330. [UofT Libaries e-resource: http://go.utlib.ca/cat/7749668]

Moffat, J. Grace in the New Testament. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1931. [Regis College Library: BT761 .M7 1932]

Monk, Samuel. “A Grace Beyond the Reach of Art.” Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol. 5, No. 2 (Apr., 1944), pp. 131-150. [UofT Libraries e-resource: http://go.utlib.ca/cat/7727885]

Monti, Martino Rossi. Il cielo in terra: La grazia fra teologia ed estetica. Torino: UTET Libreria, 2008.

Norhrnberg, James. The Analogy of the Faerie Queen. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1976. [Robarts Library: PR2358 .N6]

Norton, R.E. The Beautiful Soul. Aesthetic Morality in the Eighteenth Century. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1995. [Robarts Library: BJ311 .N67 1995X]

O’Rourke Boyle, M. “Gracious Laughter. Marsilio Ficino’s Anthropology.” Renaissance Quarterly, 52 (1999), pp. 712-41. [UofT Libraries e-resource: http://go.utlib.ca/cat/7749099]

Raffini, C. Marsilio Ficino, Pietro Bembo, Baldassare Castiglione. Philosophical, Aesthetic, and Political Approaches in Renaissance Platonism. New York: Peter Lang, 1998. [Robarts Library: B776 .I8 R34 1998X]

Rubin, Patricia. Giorgio Vasari, Art and History. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1995. [Robarts Library: N7483 .V37 R83 1995X - Short Term Loan]

Saccone, Eduardo. “Grazia, Sprezzatura, Affettazione in the Courtier.” In Castiglione: The Ideal and the Real in Renaissance Culture. Ed. R. Hanning and D. Rosand. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1983. [Robarts Library: BJ1604 .C6 C37]

Scholar, R. The “Je-Ne-Sais-Quoi” in Early Modern Europe. Encounters With a Certain Something. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005. [UofT Libraries e-resource: http://go.utlib.ca/cat/7965146]

Shuger, Deborah. Sacred Rhetoric. The Christian Grand Style in the English Renaissance. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988. [Robarts Library: PE877 .S58 1988]

Smick, Rebekah. “Grazia in the Lives of Giorgio Vasari: Rhetorical Flourish or the Power of God?” In Image Makers and Image Breakers. Ed. J.A. Harris. Ottawa: Legas, 2003, pp. 119-135. [ICS Library Reserve Shelf: B 105 .I47 I43 2003 ; Robarts Library: B105 .I47 I43 2003]

Smick, Rebekah. "Touch in the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili: The Sensual Ethics of Architecture." In Sensible Flesh: On Touch in Early Modern Culture. Ed. Elizabeth D. Harvey. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003, pp. 205-223. [ICS Library Reserve Shelf: BF275 .S46 2003 ; Robarts Library: BF 275 .S46 2003X]

Sohm, Philip. “Gendered Style in Italian Art Criticism from Michelangelo to Malvasia.” Renaissance Quarterly, Vol. 48, No. 4, Winter, 1995: 759-808 [UofT Libraries e-resource: http://go.utlib.ca/cat/7749099]

Summers, David. The Judgment of Sense. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, [Victoria University, CRRS collection: BH39 .S913 1990]

_____________. Michelangelo and the Language of Art. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1981 [Robarts Library: N6923 .B9 S86]

Tartarkiewicz, Wladyslaw. History of Aesthetics. Vol. 3. Modern Aesthetics. Trans. Adam and Anna Czerniawski. London: Continuum, 2005. [ICS Library Reserve Shelf: BH81 .T351 v.3]

_____________________, “The Great Theory of Beauty and Its Decline.” The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism. Vol. 31, No. 2 (Winter, 1972). [ICS Library: PER ; UofT Libraries e-resource: http://go.utlib.ca/cat/7722535]

Trout, John M. The Voyage of Prudence: the Worldview of Alan of Lille. Washington, D.C.: University Press of America, 1979. [Robarts Library: PA8240 .A5 T7]

Tuveson, Ernest Lee. The Imagination as a Means of Grace: Locke and the Aesthetics of Romanticism. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1963. [Robarts Library: B1297 .T8]

Weisgerber, Jean. “Un Panachage Rococo: Pope, Marivaux, Wieland et la Philosophie de la Grace.” Neohelicon, Vol. 24, no. 1, 1997: 37-61. [UofT Libraries e-resource: http://go.utlib.ca/cat/7737882]

Wittkower, Rudolph. “Genius: Individualism in Art and Artists.” Dictionary of the History of Ideas [ICS Library Reserve Shelf: B823.3 .D5 v. 2, pages 297-312]

Students with diverse learning styles and needs are welcome in this course. In particular, if you have a disability/health consideration that may require accommodations, please feel free to approach me and/or Student Services as soon as possible.

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