Recalcitrant Aesthetics - Objects, Affect, and Materiality

This research group brings together junior scholars investigating how recalcitrant materiality, objects, and affects acting beyond human control relate to aesthetic and cultural phenomena.

“Recalcitrance” denotes the act of resisting authority or control. Describing something as recalcitrant means attributing it a certain resilience or ability to disobey. Recalcitrant phenomena are refractory, stubborn, and refuse to do what they are told.

In recent years, affect theory, actor-network theory, (feminist) new materialism, object-oriented philosophy, and several other theoretical trends have extended the ability to be recalcitrant to the world of the nonhuman, underlining how material forces within and around us do not always smoothly obey our commands. Opposing epistemic endeavours as well as manipulatory practices, the nonhuman world has the ability to “kick back”, Karen Barad declares, by chance echoing the etymological roots of “recalcitrance” (cf. Latin ré-: “back”, calcitrare: “to kick”).

The main interest of this junior research group is to study the ways in which recalcitrant forces relate to aesthetic phenomena, thus applying a renewed notion of recalcitrance by asking questions as:

  • How can literature reveal what it feels like to live as recalcitrant flesh?
  • In what ways are ephemeral and recalcitrant affects decisive factors in the establishing and negotiation of aesthetic and cultural phenomena?
  • How can the relation between recalcitrant, acting objects and representations be re-conceptualized?
  • In what ways can works of art be conceptualized as recalcitrant objects with the e.g. the ability to disrupt prevailing discourses?

Although the activities and events planned by the junior research group are primarily aimed at developing the research of junior scholars, the group is open to all interested scholars.

Upcoming events

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