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‘State of Beauty Today’ conference explores idea of beauty with international speakers


Because beauty is in the eye of the beholder, it has always been a difficult concept to define.

Speakers from France, Canada and New Zealand will discuss different aspects of this pertaining to the body, fashion, books, sociology and the world as it relates to the world of capitalism at a conference taking place on campus Friday and Saturday.

Christine Probes, a French professor at USF, and Gaetan Brulotte, a French and francophone literature professor at USF, organized the event using their connections across the globe to bring in speakers.

“Contemporary art is without beauty, while traditionally beauty was found in art,” Brulotte said. “So we want to address the concern ‘where is beauty?’ I think it is a universal concern and students can certainly benefit from it.”

Brulotte said the idea for the conference came about six years ago when the university held a conference on the state of taste.

“A lot of us don’t really know what beauty is, but hopefully we’ll get some answers even though we probably won’t get to the bottom of it,” she said.

Probes said the process for finding the appropriate speakers involved a lot of studying. She compared the process of finding speakers to the way students determine the best sources for a term paper.

Because many of the speakers are from France, most of the talks will be in French, but there will be translators for English speakers.

“Students can gain a lot of insight into the diversity of beauty,” Probes said. “Because it’s called ‘The State of Beauty Today,’ it involves the diversity of beauty. For example, the first talk is in English by a researcher who is French, but has worked a lot in China.”

Chris Ogando, a junior majoring in French and history, said the event will be a great opportunity to get to know some of the professors coming from France because he is interested in going to school in France for his master’s degree.

“This is a big learning experience for me,” Ogando said. “This is the first conference I’ll be going to and I’m just really excited to see how it works.”

One of the biggest challenges for the event was finding the sponsors, Brulotte said. The sponsors, including several USF organizations and colleges from where the speakers are coming from, were a major component to making the conference possible. Brulotte noted that the French club on campus was the first support system.

The conference is free to attend and will take place over two days. On Friday, the speakers will be in the Grace Allen room on the fourth floor of the Library from 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. On Saturday, the speakers will be in the Marshall Student Center in Room 3705 from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.