The modern debates around “beauty” as a universal have their roots in the Enlightenment notion of race. How “blackness” became the touchstone not only for the definition of beauty and truth in aesthetics but also in psychology will be the theme of my riff on William Faulkner’s “The past is never dead. It’s not even past” (1951). That too was about blackness and history.
Sander Gilman is a distinguished professor of the Liberal Arts and Sciences as well as Professor of Psychiatry at Emory University. For twenty-five years he was a member of the humanities and medical faculties at Cornell University where he held the Goldwin Smith Professorship of Humane Studies. For six years he held the Henry R. Luce Distinguished Service Professorship of the Liberal Arts in Human Biology at the University of Chicago. For four years he was a distinguished professor of the Liberal Arts and Medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago where he created the Humanities Laboratory. During 1990–1991 he served as the Visiting Historical Scholar at the National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, MD; 1996–1997 as a fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford, CA; 2000–2001 as a Berlin prize fellow at the American Academy in Berlin; 2004–2005 as the Weidenfeld Visiting Professor of European Comparative Literature at Oxford University; 2007–2012 as Professor at the Institute in the Humanities, Birkbeck College; 2010–2013 as a Visiting Research Professor at The University of Hong Kong. He is the author or editor of over ninety books. Most recently: Obesity. The Biography (2010); The Third Reich Sourcebook (ed. with Anson Rabinbach, 2010); Are Racists Crazy? How Prejudice, Racism, and Antisemitism Became Markers of Insanity (2016); Jews on the Move: Particularist Universality in Modern Cosmopolitanist Thought (ed., 2016) and Stand Up Straight! A History of Posture (2018).