Although punk seemed to be non- or even anti-aesthetic, it has paradoxically proven to be among the most significant artistic phenomena of the last half century. If the western aesthetic tradition is based in notions of beauty and conformity to accepted standards, this course will ask whether a movement or sensibility that has prided itself on being ugly, offensive, and outlaw can be said to have an aesthetic—and if not, of what relevance is the aesthetic tradition to contemporary art? Of particular interest will be the politics of aesthetics, and the way punk provided a forum for the expression of racial, gender, sexual, and class difference outside the privileged position traditionally assumed by aesthetics. Readings will include classic texts in aesthetic thought (Burke, Kant, Hegel, and Nietzsche) and contemporary critical theory and sociology (Guy Debord, Herbert Marcuse, Pierre Bourdieu, and Dick Hebdige). These will be considered in dialogue with American, British, French, and German works of music, visual art, film, literature, graphic design, and fashion from the 1970s and 1980s, as well as earlier historical works that were significant influences on that generation.