Ugliness or unsightliness is much more than a quality or property of an individual’s appearance—it has long functioned as a social category that demarcates access to social, cultural, and political spaces and capital. The editors of and authors in this collection harness intersectional and interdisciplinary approaches in order to examine ugliness as a political category that is deployed to uphold established notions of worth and entitlement. On the Politics of Ugliness identifies and challenges the harmful effects that labels and feelings of ugliness have on individuals and the socio-political order. It explores ugliness in relation to the intersectional processes of racialization, colonization and settler colonialism, gender-making, ableism, heteronormativity, and fatphobia. On the Politics of Ugliness asks that we fight against visual injustice and imagine new ways of seeing. (Amazon)
ALSO OF INTEREST: ON UGLINESS BY UMBERTO ECO
(I haven’t yet completed reading Eco’s other book, On Beauty.
Somehow, I find this treatise more interesting.)
In the mold of his acclaimed History of Beauty, renowned cultural critic Umberto Eco’s On Ugliness is an exploration of the monstrous and the repellant in visual culture and the arts. What is the voyeuristic impulse behind our attraction to the gruesome and the horrible? Where does the magnetic appeal of the sordid and the scandalous come from? Is ugliness also in the eye of the beholder? Eco’s encyclopedic knowledge and captivating storytelling skills combine in this ingenious study of the Ugly, revealing that what we often shield ourselves from and shun in everyday life is what we’re most attracted to subliminally. Topics range from Milton’s Satan to Goethe’s Mephistopheles; from witchcraft and medieval torture tactics to martyrs, hermits, and penitents; from lunar births and disemboweled corpses to mythic monsters and sideshow freaks; and from Decadentism and picturesque ugliness to the tacky, kitsch, and camp, and the aesthetics of excess and vice. With abundant examples of painting and sculpture ranging from ancient Greek amphorae to Bosch, Brueghel, and Goya among others, and with quotations from the most celebrated writers and philosophers of each age, this provocative discussion explores in-depth the concepts of evil, depravity, and darkness in art and literature. (Amazon)