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Battersby, Christine, , . Gender and Genius: Towards a Feminist Aesthetics
1989, Indiana University Press.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Christy Mag Uidhir

Publisher’s Note: During the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, women were blamed for having too much passion, imagination and sexual appetite. By the late eighteenth century, however, these qualities had been revalued and appropriated for male artists. The virtues attributed to the Romantic”genius” made him like a woman but not a woman. He belonged to a third, supermale sex. As new and old concepts of woman and genius clashed, there evolved a rhetoric of sexual apartheid which today still affects our perceptions of cultural achievement. Genius from the time of the Greeks has been defined as male. In this study, Christine Battersby traces the history of the concept of genius from ancient Rome to the present day, showing how pagan myths linking divinity with male procreativity have survived into our own time. The author explores the dilemma faced by female creators who have resisted the idea that Art requires “feminine” qualities of mind but male sexual energies. GENDER AND GENIUS argues, against those currently seeking to establish an aesthetics of the “feminine,” that a feminist aesthetics must look to the achievements of women artists in the past as well as in the present.

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Feagin, Susan, , . Feminist Art History and De Facto Significance
2010, In Peg Zeglin Brand & Carolyn Korsmeyer (eds.), Feminism and Tradition in Aesthetics. Penn State Press.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Christy Mag Uidhir

Abstract: In her excellent “Feminist Art History and De Facto Significance,” for example, aesthetician Susan L. Feagin explains how her initial skepticism about Continental approaches-especially those drawing on Foucault, Marx, Levi-Strauss, Lacan, and “even Derrida and poststructuralist literary theory” – gave way to an appreciation of how these approaches encourage, in a way analytic aesthetics does not, “the trenchant analyses and acute observations that have emerged from feminist art historians” (305). And, indeed, although she goes on to suggest how traditional aesthetics might accommodate feminist and other politically informed analyses, she cautions that “it is too easy to miss the most innovative aspects of another’s view if one tries to understand it only in terms of one’s own theoretical perspective” (305).(from review by Sally Markowitz, Hypatia Vol. 11, No. 3 (Summer, 1996), pp. 169-172)

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Hanson, Karen, , . Dressing down Dressing up – The Philosophic Fear of Fashion
1990, Hypatia 5 (2):107 - 121.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Christy Mag Uidhir

Abstract: There is, to all appearances, a philosophic hostility to fashionable dress. Studying this contempt, this paper examines likely sources in philosophy’s suspicion of change; anxiety about surfaces and the inessential; failures in the face of death; and the philosophic disdain for, denial of, the human body and human passivity. If there are feminist concerns about fashion, they should be radically different from those of traditional philosophy. Whatever our ineluctable worries about desire and death, whatever our appropriate anger and impatience with the merely superficial, whatever our genuine need to mark off the serious from the trivial, feminism may be a corrective therapy for philosophy’s bad humor and self-deception, as these manifest themselves when the subject turns to beautiful clothes.

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Hein, Hilde, , . Refining Feminist Theory: Lessons from Aesthetics
2010, In Hilde Hein and Carolyn Korsmeyer (eds.), Aesthetics in Feminist Perspective. Indiana University Press.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Christy Mag Uidhir

Abstract: Because it embraces a domain that is invincibly pluralistic and dynamic, aesthetic theory can serve as a model for feminist theory. Feminist theory, which takes gender as a constituted point of departure, pluralizes theory, thereby challenging its unicity. This anomalous approach to theory is also implicit in conventional aesthetics, which has for that reason been spurned by centrist philosophy. Whilst aesthetics therefore merits attention from feminists, there is reason to be wary of such classic aesthetic doctrines as the the thesis that art is “autonomous” and properly percevied “disinterestedly”. That belief has roots in somatophobic dualism which ultimately leads to consequences as negative for art and the aesthetic as for women. Feminists rightly join with other critics of traditional dominative dualisms; yet they can learn from the expansive tendency in aesthetics toward openness and self-reflexive innovation.

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Man, Eva Kit Wah, , . Female bodily aesthetics, politics, and feminine ideals of beauty in China
2000, In Beauty Matters, Peg Zeglin Brand (ed.), Indiana University Press, p169-196.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Christy Mag Uidhir

Abstract: A long and scholarly piece by Eva Kitt Wah Man covers the history of Chinese conventions governing female ‘beauty’ from Confucius through Maoism to the present day. Classical manuals provide highly specific requirements forc ourtesans and concubines. The shrunken, pulpy appendages produced by foot-binding practiceswere regarded as the most sexually stimulating features of the female body. In 1949, following the inauguration of the Communist regime, women were expected to shun ornament and make-up, to have short hair, wear party uniforms, and to look as much like men as possible. The ideal for the contemporary Chinese woman is quite a lot like the ideal for the courtesan of tradition, but the de-tails are drawn from western fashion magazines. Wah believes that such liberation, although it has its advantages, is mainly nominal and fosters confusion. She writes: ‘Although Chinese women today are developing new self-confidence, they do not seem to be aware of the fact that one can be-come a slave of the fashion industry, which merely repeats the bodily constraints of past times in a new form’ (p. 194). [review by Mary Mothersill, 2001 – Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 59 (2):211-214.] Feminist Review volume 75, pages145-147, 2003)

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