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Representing Repulsion

The Aesthetics of Disgust in Contemporary Women’s Writing in French and German

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Katie Jones

Disgust is a strong, immediate visceral reaction. While it may feel like a purely instinctive response, the cultural meanings ascribed to particular objects, bodies or behaviours play a significant role in determining whether or not they are experienced as disgusting. This interplay between bodies and ideas makes disgust a powerful source of metaphor in narrative fiction. For women’s writing, disgust is particularly problematic due to a misogynistic tradition in which the female body has often been coded as disgusting.
This book offers a comparative study of recently published texts by eight female authors writing in French and German – Marie Darrieussecq, Amélie Nothomb, Lorette Nobécourt, Alina Reyes, Sibylle Berg, Jenny Erpenbeck, Monika Maron and Charlotte Roche – in terms of an aesthetics of disgust and asks to what extent disgust can be seen as a useful tool for feminist criticism. Since the late 1990s there have been increasing levels of academic interest in disgust in various disciplines, ranging from clinical psychology to aesthetics and moral philosophy. As one of the first full-length studies to consider literary uses of disgust, this book both contributes to the emerging field of disgust theory and offers a new contribution to the study of women’s writing.

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abjection see Kristeva aesthetics 59–66, 72, 101–6, 113–14, 219–70 in contemporary visual arts 65–6, 260–70, 274 German neoclassicism 20, 59–65, 79–80, 101–2, 105, 205 see also disgust, representation of; Kant; Korsmeyer; Saville; Talon-Hugon ambiguity 11–12, 28–9, 32–4, 79–81, 91–3, 113, 114–16, 124–5, 126, 135, 185, 189, 192–4, 210, 212, 214, 217, 272–4 anger 16, 38, 45–6, 213, 215 Angyal, Andras 32–3, 44n animality 27, 34, 189, 197, 204–6, 211–12, 214–18, 236 anorexia 95, 101, 110, 137, 142 art 63–4, 65, 162–3, 261–70 as solution to disgust 53–9, 117–18, 120, 150–71, 190, 194, 271 see also aesthetics; Lebensekel; litera- ture; Nietzsche; Sartre beauty 1, 19, 20, 49, 52, 53–4, 59, 60–2, 71, 95–8, 101–6, 112–14, 116, 130, 140, 148, 164–5, 203, 267 Berg, Sibylle 7, 118–20, 136–51, 160–71, 173, 271 blood 185–6, 199, 231–2, 240, 253 see also menstruation bodies 28–30, 49, 62–3, 66, 71, 76–7, 78–82, 92–3, 99–100, 101–5, 108–16, 123, 125–8, 132–3, 136, 139–40, 144–5, 154–6, 169, 178– 94, 198–200, 202–7, 215, 220, 240–1, 244, 253, 255–7, 272 bodily functions 85, 102–3, 112, 127, 143, 204, 247, 266 body language 83–5, 94–6, 98–100, 106–7, 114–16, 247...

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