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Kristeva, Julia. Approaching Abjection
1982, In: Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection, Columbia University Press, pp. 1-31.
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Added by: Rossen Ventzislavov

Summary: The abject – expressed through the grotesque, the gross and the physically challenging – has long been a source of innovation and scandal in the art world. For Kristeva abjection accounts for much of the complexity of the human condition. She understands abjection to encompass various aspects of our humanity that are often seen as conceptually and/or experientially disparate – emotion, embodiment, affect, repression, criminality, hygiene etc. Kristeva’s guiding intuition is that the abject helps arbitrate between our perception of ourselves as subject and object. In the liminal space between the two, the “I” is experienced in its full heterogeneity to the frequent detriment of traditional ethical, aesthetic, and scientific considerations. This has direct bearing on performance art, whose history is marked by the deliberate departure from beauty and, concurrently, the constant renegotiation of identity between the extremes of subject and object.

Comment: Best if read together with Sigmund Freud's "The Uncanny"

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Young, Iris Marion. Throwing Like a Girl: A Phenomenology of Feminine Body Comportment, Motility and Spatiality
1980, Human Studies 3 (2): 137-156
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Added by: Harry Lewendon-Evans

Summary: This paper seeks to begin to fill a gap that exists both in existential phenomenology and feminist theory. It traces in a provisional way some of the basic modalities of feminine body comportment, manner of moving, and relation in space. It brings intelligibility and significance to certain observable and rather ordinary ways in which women in our society typically comport themselves and move differently from the ways that men do. In accordance with the existentialist concern with the situatedness of human experience, [Young] make[s] no claim to the universality of this typicality of the body comportment of women and the phenomenological description based on it. The account developed here claims only to describe the modalities of feminine bodily existence for women situated in contemporary advanced industrial, urban, and commercial society.

Comment: This paper provides a clear and useful introduction to the notion of gendered bodily experience. It would be a useful introductory piece for any course that studies the role of the body more generally, such as courses on phenomenology, philosophy of race/gender, or issues in cognitive science.

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