Bel Canto

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


The role of aesthetics in the perception of leadership


When I first wanted to ask this question of the group there wasn't a category. Now that their is our discussion the other week about aesthetics in leadership reminded me about it and I've been thinking about this quite a bit more. I'm not sure if the blog will be up after class (or if anybody will be continuing discussions here) but I wanted to at least ask just in case.

I know there were only a few female characters in Bel Canto book to begin with, but I was curious about their development and how their own personal aesthetic played in with their role. Carmen was beautiful and striking from the get-go (even though they assumed she was a beautiful-faced boy.) She also turned out to be intelligent and a quick learner! Beatriz was, (to summarize crudely), portrayed as ugly, surly and stupid.

My questions are:
In literature, do females need to be beautiful to be valuable characters? (or even in real life - valuable leaders?)

Does personal aesthetic (not just clothes, but one's personal appearance) make a difference in the perception of one's leadership abilities, their intelligence and whether or not we want to interact with them?

Here's a lighthearted example - it isn't a leadership video but it illustrates the question quite well:
"NYU Student Conducts Most Adorable Robot Experiment Ever"
Students set a little self-propelled robot at one side of central park with a note to see what happened. Would people steal the robot? Would they kick it or damage it? Would people help the robot along the way? They set the robot in the park and taped its travels. The results were unbearably cute, and the group used it as an example to argue that humanity really isn't as bad as we think it is. I would like to see them perform the same study again with a larger, less-cute robot and see what the next set of findings are.

Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs