The interest in aesthetics in philosophy, literary and cultural studies is growing rapidly. This book contains exemplary essays by key practitioners in these fields which demonstrate the importance of this area of enquiry. New aestheticism remains a troubled term and in current parlance it already comes loaded with the baggage of the 'philistine controversy' which first emerged in an exchange that originally that took place in the New Left Review during the mid-1990s. A serious aesthetic education is necessary for resisting the advance of 'philistinism'. Contemporary aesthetic production may be decentred and belonging to the past, but that is not a reason to underestimate what great works do that nothing else can. Despite well-established feminist work in literary criticism, film theory and art history, feminist aesthetics 'is a relatively young discipline, dating from the early 1990s'. The book focuses on the critical interrogation of the historical status of mimesis in the context of a gendered and racial politics of modernity. Throughout the history of literary and art criticism the focus has fallen on the creation or reception of works and texts. The book also identifies a fragmentary Romantic residue in contemporary aesthetics. The Alexandrian aesthetic underlies the experience of the 'allegorical'. 'Cultural poetics' makes clear the expansion of 'poetics' into a domain that is no longer strictly associated with 'poetry'. The book also presents an account of a Kantian aesthetic criticism, discussing Critique of Pure Reason, Critique of Aesthetic Judgement and Critique of Judgement.
Ewa Plonowska Ziarek
Mimesis in black and white:
feministaesthetics, negativity and semblance
As Sarah Worth suggests, despite well-established feminist work in literary criticism,
film theory and art history, feministaesthetics ‘is a relatively young discipline, dating
from the early 1990s’, and thus still open to contestation and new formulations.1 In
this context it might seem paradoxical that one of the founding texts of feministaesthetics, Rita Felski’s Beyond FeministAesthetics: Feminist Literature and Social Change,
proclaims its impossibility
-critical formations. Ewa Ziarek interrogates the recent history of feministaesthetics and in a
post-culturalist reading which draws upon advances within post-colonialism and feminism, including the theories of female masquerade and colonial mimicry of Joan
Riviere, Frantz Fanon and Homi Bhabha, she oﬀers a reformulation of Adorno’s social
history of mimesis in the context of a ‘gendered and racial politics of modernity’. In
a reading which resonates powerfully with Docherty’s chapter Andrew Bowie reminds
us that theory’s suspicion of identificatory modes of thinking and its
Metropolitan Museum in New York. Stein wrote frequently on Picasso and
her writing on her friend was gathered together in 1970 in a volume now
available as Gertrude Stein, Picasso: The Complete Writings, Boston, Beacon
For interesting and relevant discussions of the history of the notion of genius
see Christine Battersby, Gender and Genius: Towards a FeministAesthetics,
London, The Women’s Press, 1989, and Andrew Bowie, Aesthetics and
Subjectivity: From Kant to Nietzsche, Manchester, Manchester University
Gertrude Stein, Lectures in America, London
had in the
formulation and dissemination of postmodernism.
Three chapters capture the repercussions of the Chinese Cultural Revolution on French art. In ‘A secondary contradiction: feministaesthetics
and “The Red Room for Vietnam”’, Elodie Antoine explores the inability of
Maoist artists in France to supersede the standard gender biases that were
prevalent in the 1960s. While the artists connected to the Salon of Young
Painting posed strong challenges to the bourgeois nature of art production, they could not escape the reproduction of masculine power structures
Feminist aesthetics and ‘The Red Room for Vietnam’
A secondary contradiction: feministaesthetics and ‘The Red Room for Vietnam’
Although the list of artists who were members of the Parti Communiste Français (PCF, French Communist Party) was widely known, if not advertised, at
a time when the PCF still accounted for 21 per cent of the French electorate,
the interest in Maoism, and even its power of attraction to artists, remains a
nebulous question.1 The historiography of the Maoist movement in France
thoroughly explains the origins of Mao Zedong thought in France, describing
its stakes, circuits
-sectioned by category, with a separate introduction for each one.
Marks , Elaine , and de Courtivron , Isabelle , eds, New French Feminisms ( Harvester , 1981 ).
The pioneering book in introducing much of this material to English-speaking readers.
Moi , Toril , French Feminist Thought: A Reader ( Wiley-Blackwell , 1987 ).
Rooney , Ellen , ed., The Cambridge Companion to Feminist Literary Theory ( Cambridge Companions to Literature , 2006 ).
Contains extremely useful updating essays on feministaesthetics of
Women and body hair in contemporary art and advertising
, just to name a few, Weegee, Diane Arbus and Larry Clark. What is important in these works, however, is the potential for a problematisation of aesthetics in general, and of feministaesthetics and art in particular. 37 In the 1970s and 1980s, many feminists criticised body art, 38 since they saw the danger of complying with the traditional association of women with the body, and suggested that body art might be read as a sort of acceptance of the female body as spectacle and commodification. Leonard’s photographs lend themselves to various interpretations (which
documentaire , Paris, Flammarion.
Battersby , Christine ( 1989 ),
Gender and Genius: Towards a FeministAesthetics , London, The Women’s Press.
Becker , Howard ( 1982 ), Art Worlds , Berkeley, University of
Blewitt , John ( 1993 ),
‘Film, Ideology and Bourdieu’s Critique of Public
Taste’, British Journal of
containing an embedded narrative of the mother; the daughter/writer as a subject attempts to speak to her mother as a subject rather than about her as an object. 33
Thus, women’s feminist life-writing praxis comes to mirror women’s conversational practices , as a form of group identification and affirmation. Malin’s ideas here also mirror Rita Felski’s influential formulation of feminist confessional practices in her study, Beyond FeministAesthetics (1989). 34 Felski identifies feminist confession as a narrative or life-writing mode of