Faculty Colloquium: Peter Wogan

Please join us on Thursday, January 23rd, at 4:10 p.m. in Ford 204 for our first Faculty Colloquium of this semester.

Presenter: Peter Wogan, Professor of Anthropology Coins in water

Title: Awe and Aesthetics: Coins in Water

Abstract: Why are so many people in the U.S. and elsewhere attracted to the sight of coins lying in shallow water, such as fountains, ponds, and other “wishing wells”? My answers are based on a blend of research traditions in cultural anthropology and social psychology. First, research on aesthetic preferences has repeatedly shown a preference for landscapes with an element of mystery, a sense that more information could be gained through exploration. I suggest that, similarly, coins lying in shallow bodies of clear water present visual mystery through their novel, complicated patterns. Second, reactions to such coins subtly fit the two prototypical qualities of awe: need for mental accommodation, and perceived vastness. I argue that these aesthetic and awe reactions are particularly connected with images of social groups, as well as possible resistance to class inequality and state control.

Students are welcome and coffee and treats will be provided. We look forward to seeing you there. Also, remember to note the move to Thursday afternoons this semester.

Bill Kelm and Stephen Patterson
Faculty Colloquium Coordinators