The Affective Aesthetics of Transnational Feminism

Journal article
(Original article)

Publication Details

Author(s): Gerund K, Schultermandl S, Mrak A
Journal: WiN: The EAAS Women’s Network Journal
Publication year: 2018
Volume: 1
Language: English


This review essay offers a consideration of affect and aesthetics in transnational feminism writing. We first discuss the general marginalization of aesthetics in selected canonical texts of transnational feminist theory, seen mostly as the exclusion of texts that do not adhere to the established tenets of academic writing, as well as the lack of interest in the closer examination of the features of transnational feminist aesthetic and its political dimensions. In proposing a more comprehensive alternative, we draw on the current “re-turn towards aesthetics” and especially on Rita Felski’s work in this context. This approach works against a “hermeneutics of suspicion” in literary analyses and re-directs scholarly attention from the hidden messages and political contexts of a literary work to its aesthetic qualities and distinctly literary properties. While proponents of these movements are not necessarily interested in the political potential of their theories, scholars in transnational feminism like Samantha Pinto have shown the congruency of aesthetic and political interests in the study of literary texts. Extending Felski’s and Pinto’s respective projects into an approach to literary aesthetics more oriented toward transnational feminism on the one hand and less exclusively interested in formalist experimentation on the other, we propose the concept of affective aesthetics. It productively complicates recent theories of literary aesthetics and makes them applicable to a diverse range of texts. We exemplarily consider the affective dimensions of aesthetic strategies in works by Christina Sharpe, Sara Ahmed, bell hooks, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who promote the idea of feminism as an everyday practice through aesthetically rendered texts that foster a personal and intimate link between the writer, text, and the reader. The affective dimensions of transnational feminist writing prove to be an effective political strategy. We indicate how this approach might contribute to a reading of genre-defying nonexperimental texts in order to exhaust their full political potential—in form, context, and affective strategy—for a transnational feminist agenda.

FAU Authors / FAU Editors

Gerund, Katharina Dr.
Lehrstuhl für Amerikanistik, insbesondere nordamerikanische Literatur- und Kulturwissenschaft

External institutions
Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz
University of Ljubljana

How to cite

Gerund, K., Schultermandl, S., & Mrak, A. (2018). The Affective Aesthetics of Transnational Feminism. WiN: The EAAS Women’s Network Journal, 1.

Gerund, Katharina, Silvia Schultermandl, and Anja Mrak. "The Affective Aesthetics of Transnational Feminism." WiN: The EAAS Women’s Network Journal 1 (2018).


Last updated on 2018-17-07 at 16:08