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Feminist Aesthetics and the Politics of Modernism$
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Ewa Plonowska Ziarek

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780231161497

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231161497.001.0001

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Woolf’s Aesthetics of Potentiality

Woolf’s Aesthetics of Potentiality

(p.86) 3 Woolf’s Aesthetics of Potentiality
Feminist Aesthetics and the Politics of Modernism

Ewa Płonowska Ziarek

Columbia University Press

This chapter situates the transformative capacity of literature—its ability to contest gender domination, imperialism, and the gendered division of labor—in relation to women's political aspirations to freedom. Conversely, this class, gender, and racist domination also threatens the very possibility of art even before its inception. In fact, Woolf's imaginary history of women's literary production begins with the utter destruction of women's art and their bodies—a destruction internalized as madness, melancholia, and resentment. It is only by bearing witness to both the destruction of women's artistic capacities and women's revolutionary aspirations for political and economic freedom that feminist aesthetics can inaugurate new possibilities of writing and passionate relations between women.

Keywords:   literature, gender domination, imperialism, freedom, art, women's literary production, melancholia

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