Feminist Aesthetics and the Politics of Modernism

Overview

Ewa Ziarek fully articulates a feminist aesthetics, focusing on the struggle for freedom in women's literary and political modernism and the devastating impact of racist violence and sexism. She examines the contradiction between women's transformative literary and political practices and the oppressive realities of racist violence and sexism, and she situates these tensions within the entrenched opposition between revolt and melancholia in studies of modernity and within the friction between material injuries ...

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Feminist Aesthetics and the Politics of Modernism

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Overview

Ewa Ziarek fully articulates a feminist aesthetics, focusing on the struggle for freedom in women's literary and political modernism and the devastating impact of racist violence and sexism. She examines the contradiction between women's transformative literary and political practices and the oppressive realities of racist violence and sexism, and she situates these tensions within the entrenched opposition between revolt and melancholia in studies of modernity and within the friction between material injuries and experimental aesthetic forms. Ziarek's political and aesthetic investigations concern the exclusion and destruction of women in politics and literary production and the transformation of this oppression into the inaugural possibilities of writing and action. Her study is one of the first to combine an in-depth engagement with philosophical aesthetics, especially the work of Theodor W. Adorno, with women's literary modernism, particularly the writing of Virginia Woolf and Nella Larsen, along with feminist theories on the politics of race and gender. By bringing seemingly apolitical, gender-neutral debates about modernism's experimental forms together with an analysis of violence and destroyed materialities, Ziarek challenges both the anti-aesthetic subordination of modern literature to its political uses and the appreciation of art's emancipatory potential at the expense of feminist and anti-racist political struggles.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Jean-Michel Rabaté

In her rich, persuasive, and provocative new book, Ewa Ziarek moves between Virginia Woolf and Nella Larsen, negotiates between Theodor Adorno and feminist theory, plays off Giorgio Agamben and Jacques Rancière against Julia Kristeva and Rita Felski, to develop one central argument: that, to paraphrase Karl Marx, whereas aestheticians have only interpreted the world, now the time has come to change it, and this will happen when the revolutionary potential of art is unleashed by allying itself with feminist critique.

Dan Blanton

Elegantly argued and often brilliant in its handling of diverse theoretical traditions, Ewa Ziarek's book will speak equally to those interested in the longer history of post-Kantian art-philosophy and to those working in the more recent discourses of critical theory. A major contribution to several scholarly fields and likely to become a touchstone for those seeking rigorous yet enabling language for the ways in which modernism continues to matter.

Jean-Michel Rabate
In her rich, persuasive, and provocative new book, Ewa Ziarek moves between Virginia Woolf and Nella Larsen, negotiates between Theodor Adorno and feminist theory, plays off Giorgio Agamben and Jacques Rancière against Julia Kristeva and Rita Felski, to develop one central argument: that, to paraphrase Karl Marx, whereas aestheticians have only interpreted the world, now the time has come to change it, and this will happen when the revolutionary potential of art is unleashed by allying itself with feminist critique.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Ewa Ziarek is Julian Park Professor of Comparative Literature at the State University of New York, Buffalo. She is the author of An Ethics of Dissensus: Feminism, Postmodernity, and the Politics of Radical Democracy and coeditor of Revolt, Affect, Collectivity: The Unstable Boundaries of Kristeva's Polis and Intermedialities: Philosophy, Art, Politics.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsAbbreviationsIntroduction: On Loss1 Revolutionary Praxis and Its Melancholic Impasses1. On Suffrage Militancy and Modernism: Femininity and Revolt2. Melancholia3. Woolf's Aesthetics of Potentiality2 Female BodiesIntroduction: Rethinking the Form/Matter Divide in Feminist Politics and Aesthetics4. Abstract Commodity Form and Bare Life5. Damaged Materialities in Political Struggles and Aesthetic Innovations3 Toward a Feminine Aesthetics of Renaissance6. The Enigma of Nella Larsen: LettersNotesIndex

Columbia University Press

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