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Prosjektleder: Unni Langås, HiA

Støttebeløp: 200.000 kroner

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The Gendered Body, Aesthetics and Experience

Conference June  3 - 6, 2004 at Høgskolen i Agder

The body has always been a central object of study in the arts and science, but in the wake of recent scholarship on women and gender the body has come into focus as never before in history. Many studies demonstrate how the body has been used as a ‘natural’ argument for definitions and evaluations of femininity and masculinity, as well as how these cultural constructions imply value hierarchies and power relationships. Art and literature often deal with tensions between the body as experience and the meanings into which it is inscribed.

The goal of the conference is to elucidate and interrogate current aesthetic and theoretical scholarship on the gendered body and provide inspiration for future research. The topic will be considered in a broadly humanist perspective and related to diverse fields such as comparative literature, art history, the history of science, theology and philosophy. However, in order to sharpen the focus, the plenary lectures and workshop papers will concentrate on the following three main themes: the dead body, the discursive body and the body as an object of desire.

The dead body is represented in art and literature as something that is both fascinating and repulsive, while simultaneously functioning as a site of negotiations between art and reality, man and woman, life and death. The body is intimately connected with an aesthetic approach to ‘the other.’ That the body is discursive is reflected in a variety of different contexts, such as culturally conditioned illnesses like chronic fatigue, hysteria and anorexia, contemporary fashions and youth culture, and plastic and performative arts. The discourses of the body may thus be seen both as a symptom of cultural discontent, a commercial phenomenon and an attempt to challenge and transgress established discursive practices. The body is also fundamentally related to sexuality, and phenomena such as desire, lust and fantasies are inseparable from it. In both the arts and popular culture the body plays a central and probably increasing role as an object of desire. Together these three themes will contribute to a many-faceted investigation of aesthetic representations of the body, and on the background of a historical horizon it will offer current reflections on the body in contemporary culture.

Keynote speakers

Elisabeth Bronfen, professor, University of Zürich, Switzerland

Dag Heede, associate professor, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark Thomas Laqueur, professor, University of California at Berkeley, USA

Toril Moi, professor, Duke University, Durham, USA

Karin Sanders, associate professor, University of California at Berkeley, USA

Tone Selboe, professor, University of Tromsø, Norway

Publisert: 15.04.2008
© KILDEN. Nettpresentasjon av forskningsprogrammet
Kjønnsforskning: kunnskap, grenser, endring 2001—2007
utarbeidet av KILDEN for Norges forskningsråd.