What do cultural artifacts—monuments, songs, books, films, TV shows, paintings, folk art, and so on—reveal about our cultures? And what are their limitations? In considering these questions, we will ask whether and to what extent engaging aesthetics and difference are complementary endeavors. Addressing these questions will require us to consider aesthetics and human difference from a number of angles. We will ask how the positions we take when reading—both physical and ideological—influence our interpretations, and the kinds of arguments monuments make to us based upon their positioning and how they ask us to approach them. Along these lines, we will also explore the concept and practice of audience and what it means to approach aesthetics in the public realm. How is reading or viewing shaped by those around us? What’s the difference between an audience in a movie theater, stage production, museum, or class? Why do different venues require different forms of spectatorship? Similarly, imagine the same cultural artifact, such as a song, in varied contexts or performed by different kinds of people. These and other concerns will animate the course as we study the way that cultural artifacts produced in particular historical moments are subject to current and future interpretation.