The Feminist eZine

Toronto Website Design & Toronto SEO

Feminist Aesthetics

By Carolyn Korsmeyer

“Feminist aesthetics” does not label a variety of aesthetics in the way that, for example, the terms “virtue theory” and “naturalized epistemology” qualify types of ethics and theories of knowledge. Rather, to refer to feminist aesthetics is to identify a set of perspectives that pursue certain questions about philosophical theories and their assumptions regarding art and aesthetic categories. Feminists in general have concluded that, despite the seemingly neutral and inclusive theoretical language of philosophy, virtually all areas of the discipline bear the mark of gender in their basic conceptual frameworks. Those who work in aesthetics inquire into the ways that gender influences the formation of ideas about art, artists, and aesthetic value. Feminist perspectives in aesthetics are also attuned to the cultural influences that exert power over subjectivity: the way that art both reflects and perpetuates the social formation of gender, sexuality, and identity.

Aesthetics is by nature rather more interdisciplinary than are some other areas of philosophy, for this field articulates with art practices and the critical disciplines. Feminist perspectives in aesthetics have been contributed not only by philosophers but also by art historians, musicologists, and theorists of literature, film, and performance, among others. There are practical implications for the discoveries that emerge from feminist investigations: analyses of the historical conceptual frameworks that govern aesthetics and philosophy of art help to account for the disparate numbers of men and women who have been influential practitioners of the arts, for example. Philosophical theories adapted by feminists also have been highly influential in the critical interpretation of art and popular culture, and sometimes in the development of contemporary artistic practice. What is more, feminist aesthetics pursues inquiries and critiques that reach into the values at the very foundations of philosophy, examining concepts that often do not directly refer to males and females at all, yet whose hierarchies are imbued with gendered significance.

  • 1. Art and Artists: Historical Background
  • 2. Art and Artists: Creativity and Genius
  • 3. Aesthetic Categories and Feminist Critiques
  • 4. Feminist Practice and the Concept of Art
  • 5. The Body in Art and Philosophy


    Bibliography

    • Banes, Sally. (1998). Dancing Women: Female Bodies on Stage. London: Routledge.
    • Battersby, Christine. (1989). Gender and Genius: Towards a Feminist Aesthetics. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
    • __________. (1998). The Phenomenal Woman: Feminist Metaphysics and the Patterns of Identity. New York: Routledge.
    • Beauvoir, Simone de. The Second Sex. (1989/49).Trans. H.M. Parshley. New York: Vintage Books.
    • Bindman, David. (2002). Ape to Apollo: Aesthetics and the Idea of Race in the 18th Century. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
    • Brand, Peg Zeglin, ed. (2000). Beauty Matters. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
    • Brand, Peggy Zeglin and Carolyn Korsmeyer. Eds. (1995). Feminism and Tradition in Aesthetics. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press.
    • Burke, Edmund. (1957/1968). A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful. ed. James T. Boulton. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press.
    • Butler, Judith.(1993). Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of “Sex.” New York: Routledge.
    • __________. (1990). Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York: Routledge.
    • Campbell, Sue. (1997). Interpreting the Personal: Expression and the Formation of Feelings. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
    • Carroll, Noël. (1995). “The Image of Women in Film: A Defense of a Paradigm.” Feminism and Tradition in Aesthetics. Peggy Zeglin Brand and Carolyn Korsmeyer, Eds. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press: 371-391.
    • __________. (2000). Theories of Art Today. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.
    • Chadwick, Whitney. (1990). Women, Art, and Society. London: Thames and Hudson, Ltd.
    • Chicago, Judy and Edward Lucie-Smith. (1999). Women and Art: Contested Territory. New York: Watson-Guptill.
    • Citron, Marcia J. (1993). Gender and the Musical Canon. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    • Copjec, Joan. (2002). Imagine There's No Woman: Ethics and Sublimation. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
    • Creed, Barbara. (1993). The Monstrous Feminine: Film, Feminism, Psychoanalysis. London: Routledge.
    • Curran, Angela. (1998). “Feminism and the Narrative Structures of the Poetics.” Feminist Interpretations of Aristotle. Cynthia Freeland, ed. University Park, Pa: Pennsylvania State University Press, pp. 289-326.
    • Danto, Arthur. (1981), The Transfiguration of the Commonplace: A Philosophy of Art. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
    • Davies, Stephen. (1991). Definitions of Art. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
    • Devereaux, Mary. (2003). “Feminist Aesthetics.” The Oxford Handbook of Aesthetics. Jerrold Levinson, ed. New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 647-666.
    • __________. (1998) “Autonomy and its Feminist Critics.” Encyclopedia of Aesthetics, Vol. 1. Michael Kelly, Ed. New York: Oxford University Press: 179-182.
    • __________. (1995). “Oppressive Texts, Resisting Readers, and the Gendered Spectator.” Feminism and Tradition in Aesthetics. Peggy Zeglin Brand and Carolyn Korsmeyer, eds. University Park, Pa: Pennsylvania State University Press, pp. 121-41.
    • Dickie, George. (1996). The Century of Taste: The Philosophical Odyssey of Taste in the Eighteenth Century. New York: Oxford University Press.
    • Doane, Mary Ann. (1991). Femmes Fatales: Feminism, Film Theory, Psychoanalysis. New York: Routledge.
    • Eaton, Anne. (2005). “Feminist Aesthetics and Criticism.” Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2nd ed. Macmillan.
    • Ecker, Gisela, ed. (1986). Feminist Aesthetics. Trans. Harriet Anderson. Boston: Beacon Press.
    • Felski, Rita. (1989). Beyond Feminist Aesthetics: Feminist Literature and Social Change. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
    • __________. (1998). “Critique of Feminist Aesthetics.” Encyclopedia of Aesthetics, Vol. 2. Michael Kelly, ed. New York: Oxford University Press: 170-72.
    • Florence, Penny and Nicola Foster. eds. (2000). Differential Aesthetics: Art Practices, Philosophy, and Feminist Understandings. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate.
    • Freeland, Cynthia. (2001). But Is It Art? An Introduction to Art Theory. New York: Oxford University Press.
    • __________. (1998a). “Film Theory.” A Companion to Feminist Philosophy. Malden, MA: Blackwell: 353-360.
    • __________. (1998b). The Naked and the Undead. New York: Westview.
    • Freeman, Barbara Claire. (1995). The Feminine Sublime: Gender and Excess in Women's Fiction. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.
    • __________. (1998). “Feminine Sublime.”Encyclopedia of Aesthetics, Vol 4. Michael Kelly, ed. New York: Oxford University Press: 331-34.
    • Gatens, Moira. (1991). Feminism and Philosophy: Perspectives on Difference and Equality. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
    • Grosz, Elizabeth. (1994).Volatile Bodies: Toward a Corporeal Feminism. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
    • Hein, Hilde and Carolyn Korsmeyer, eds. (1993). Aesthetics in Feminist Perspective. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
    • hooks, bell. (1992). “The Oppositional Gaze.” Black Looks. Boston: South End Press, 1992.
    • Howes, David, ed. (1991). The Varieties of Sensory Experience. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
    • Irigaray, Luce. (1974/85). Speculum of the Other Woman. Trans. Gillian C. Gill. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
    • Kant, Immanuel.(1798/1978) Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View. Trans. Victor Lyle Dowdell. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press.
    • __________. (1790/1987). Critique of Judgment. Trans. Werner Pluhar. Indianapolis: Hackett.
    • Kaplan, E. Ann. (1990). Psychoanalysis and Cinema. New York: Routledge, 1990.
    • Klinger, Cornelia. (1998). “Aesthetics.” A Companion to Feminist Philosophy. Alison M. Jaggar and Iris Marion Young, eds. Malden, MA: Blackwell: 343-352.
    • __________. (1997). “The Concepts of the Sublime and the Beautiful in Kant and Lyotard.” Feminist Interpretations of Immanuel Kant. Robin May Schott, ed. University Park, Pa: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1997: 191-211.
    • Korsmeyer, Carolyn. (2004). Gender and Aesthetics: An Introduction. London: Routledge.
    • _________. “Perceptions, Pleasures, Arts: Considering Aesthetics.” Philosophy in a Feminist Voice: Critiques and Reconstructions. Janet Kourany, ed. Princeton: Princeton University Press1998: 145-72.
    • Kristeller, Paul Osker. (1951-52). “The Modern System of the Arts: A Study in the History of Aesthetics,” Parts I and II,

      Journal of the History of Ideas 112 and 113: 496-527, 17-46. Also in Essays on the History of Aesthetics. Peter Kivy, ed. Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 1992.

    • Kristeva, Julia. (1982). The Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection. Trans. Leon S. Roudiez. New York: Columbia University Press.
    • Lauter, Estella. (1993). “Re-enfranchising Art: Feminist Interventions in the Theory of Art.” Aesthetics in Feminist Perspective. Hilde Hein and Carolyn Korsmeyer, Eds. Bloomington: Indiana University Press: 21-34.
    • Lorraine, Renée. (1993). “A Gynecentric Aesthetic.” Aesthetics in Feminist Perspective. Hilde Hein and Carolyn Korsmeyer, Eds. Bloomington: Indiana University Press: 35-52.
    • Lippard, Lucy. (1995). The Pink Glass Swan: Selected Essays on Feminist Art. New York: The New York Press.
    • McClary, Susan. (1991) Feminine Endings: Music, Gender, and Sexuality. Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press.
    • Mattick, Paul Jr. Ed. (1993). Eighteenth-Century Aesthetics and the Reconstruction of Art. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    • Moi, Toril. (1985). Sexual/Textual Politics: Feminist Literary Theory. London: Metheun.
    • Mulvey, Laura. (1996). Fetishism and Curiosity. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1996.
    • __________. (1989). Visual and Other Pleasures. London: Macmillan, 1989.
    • Nead, Lynda. (1992). The Female Nude: Art, Obscenity and Sexuality. London: Routledge.
    • Nochlin, Linda. (1988). “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” Women, Art, and Power and Other Essays. New York: Harper and Row.
    • Parker, Rozsika and Griselda Pollock. (1981). Old Mistresses: Women, Art and Ideology. New York: Pantheon Books.
    • Pollock, Griselda. (1988). Vision and Difference: Femininity, Feminism and the Histories of Art. London: Routledge.
    • Reckitt, Helena, ed. (2001). Art and Feminism. New York: Phaidon.
    • Scheman, Naomi. (1993). “Thinking about Quality in Women's Visual Art.” Engenderings: Constructions of Knowledge, Authority, and Privilege. New York: Routledge.
    • Shiner, Larry. (2001). The Invention of Art: A Cultural History. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
    • Shusterman, Richard. (1993.) “On the Scandal of Taste.” Mattick, Paul Jr., Ed. Eighteenth-Century Aesthetics and the Reconstruction of Art. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 96-119.
    • Silverman, Kaja. (1992). Male Subjectivity at the Margins. New York: Routledge.
    • Silvers, Anita. (1998). “Feminism: An Overview.” Encyclopedia of Aesthetics. Michael Kelly, ed. New York: Oxford University Press: Vol 2, 161-67.
    • Steiner, Wendy. (2001). Venus in Exile: The Rejection of Beauty in Twentieth-Century Art. New York: The Free Press.
    • Woodmansee, Martha. (1994). The Author, Art, and the Market: Rereading the History of Aesthetics. New York: Columbia University Press.
    • Worth, Sarah. (1998). “Feminism and Aesthetics.” The Routledge Companion to Aesthetics. Berys Gaut and Dominic McIver Lopes, Eds. London: Routledge.
    • Zegher, M. Catherine de, ed. (1996). Inside the Visible: an elliptical traverse of 20th century art in, of, and from the feminine. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.







  • About Us - Advertise - Blog - Art History - Automotives - Canada - Entertainment - Environmental - Fashion - Feminism - Gothic - Health - Politics - Religion - Sex - Technology