Simon Wortham
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Van Gogh’s shoes, or, does the university have two left feet?
in Rethinking the university
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This chapter considers a number of instances of foot fetishism as they arise in twentieth-century critical thought, many of which seem to offer a way for thinkers to gain a sort of foothold, to attempt or explore orientation in their respective fields. Examples will include: Heidegger's analysis in his essay 'The origin of the work of art' of Van Gogh's depiction of shoes; Frederic Jameson's discussion in 'The cultural logic of late capitalism' of portrayals of footwear in modern art. Jameson finds in Van Gogh's peasant shoes a vibrant, organic immediacy, the painting itself gloriously transforming the poverty, abjection and oppression that it takes as its subject within a 'Utopian realm of the senses'. Jacques Derrida's evocation of shod feet orients his essay in its final stages towards 'a discussion' held with Meyer Shapiro some years earlier 'on the subject of certain shoes in Van Gogh'.

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Rethinking the university

Leverage and deconstruction


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