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Ergebnisanzeige "The Aesthetics of Disgust: Revolting Bodies and Other Gruesome Things in post-1990 Women's Writing"
RessourcentypCall for Papers
TitelThe Aesthetics of Disgust: Revolting Bodies and Other Gruesome Things in post-1990 Women's Writing
BeschreibungCentre for the Study of Contemporary Women's Writing
at the
University of London School of Advanced Study

CALL FOR PAPERS (deadline 15 March 2013)

The Aesthetics of Disgust: Revolting Bodies and Other Gruesome Things in post-1990 Women's Writing

A CCWW seminar

Wednesday 26 June 2013, 2pm
Venue: IGRS, University of London, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

Organiser: Katie Jones (Nottingham)

Disgust is a strong, immediate visceral reaction. Classed among the universal human emotions, it can feel like an obvious or even a natural response to physical stimuli such as putrefaction or bodily waste products. However, a closer look at the cultural construction of disgust and its elicitors reveals a much deeper complexity: while the disgust reaction itself may be intrinsic to humans, the cultural meanings ascribed to particular objects, bodies or behaviours play a significant role in whether or not they are experienced as disgusting. This interplay between bodies and ideas makes the disgusting a particularly powerful source of metaphor in literature, but the often extreme nature of the disgust response means it is hard to control. Disgust is also problematic for feminist analysis, due to a misogynistic tradition in which the female body has often been coded as disgusting. While excrement and corpses are key elicitors of disgust, images of pregnancy, menstruation and excessive fleshy femaleness are disproportionately present in cultural representations of the disgusting, and, according to Winfried Menninghaus (1999), the body of the old woman is the ultimate object of disgust, bringing together key cultural anxieties about ageing, sex and death in one horrifying image.
Since the late 1990s, there has been a marked increase in theoretical interest in disgust in a range of fields of enquiry. As Carolyn Korsmeyer (2011) points out, this has coincided with an increase in the production of artworks that represent disgust as their main focus, or which set out to provoke disgust in their audience.
This symposium seeks to take advantage of this disgusting moment in aesthetic representation and theory to develop a new approach to reading contemporary women's writing. Bringing together analyses of literature in French and German, Spanish, Portuguese or Italian, the papers will consider the various ways in which women represent, manipulate and engage with disgusting themes and the experience of disgust. The concluding discussion will evaluate the possibilities and limitations of disgust for a nuanced understanding of women's self-representation in a contemporary context and across cultures.

Key topics to be addressed include (but are not limited to) the following:
- Disgust at the female body: sexuality, pregnancy, menstruation.
- How and why do writers seek to provoke disgust in their readers?
- Disgust as a metaphor for social, political, or existential anxieties.
- Disgust as a response to injustice.
- Graphic depictions of bodily fluids and emissions.
- Excessive or grotesque corporeality.
- Human vs. animal disgust.
- The abject body.
- Disgusting depictions of suffering: moral vs. physical disgust.
- Representations of death and decay.
- To what extent do contemporary women writers reproduce or challenge or otherwise engage critically with misogynistic stereotypes of disgust?

Two speakers are already confirmed from French and German studies:
Katie Jones (French & Francophone Studies, Nottingham): 'Towards a feminist aesthetics of disgust? Amélie Nothomb, Marie Darrieussecq, Charlotte Roche'
Elizabeth Boa (German Studies, Nottingham): 'Lust or Disgust? The Blurring of Boundaries in Karen Duve's Regenroman'

We are looking for two further papers from any of French, German, Italian, Hispanic and Portuguese/Brazilian Studies.

Proposals should be sent by 15 March 2013 to Katie Jones ( and Gill Rye (; expressions of interest are encouraged in the meantime.

Jane Lewin
Institute Administrator/Consortium Publications Manager
Institute of Germanic & Romance Studies
University of London School of Advanced Study
Room ST 277a (new), Senate House
Malet Street, GB- London WC1E 7HU
Telephone 0044 (0)20 7862 8966
Please note that, owing to building work in Stewart House, access to
IGRS events and offices is through Senate House only
The IGRS is part of the IGRS/IMR/IP Administrative Consortium

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