- The Oblique Art of Shoes: Popular Culture, Aesthetic Pleasure, and the Humanities
- Journal for Cultural Research
- Volume | Issue number
- 19 | 3
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Humanities (FGw)
- Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA)
This article addresses popular culture and the humanities. It uses shoes as an object of analysis to interrogate the place and function of aesthetic pleasure in critical thinking and cultural practice in the age of globalization and the neoliberal university. Tracking contemporary articulations of the shoe as a popular cultural object, the discussion begins by recalibrating Judith Halberstam’s concept of the "queer art of failure" in terms of what I call an oblique art of shoes. The discussion also revisits Fredric Jameson’s footwear musings in Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism to elucidate a missing link between aesthetics, affect, and materiality in the critique of popular culture. The article accordingly works with obliqueness in two ways. First, my approach is oblique in the sense that I address popular culture and the humanities indirectly via the aesthetics and materiality of the shoe. Second, like many popular objects, I find shoes themselves to have an oblique relationship with art and so-called high culture. My argument - developed in relation to examples from visual art, museum exhibitions, urban space, and advertising billboards - is that analyzing the oblique art of shoes can make newly visible the extent to which aesthetic pleasure can inform, and sometimes even constitute, critical practice.
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