May 21 2021

AWW-STRUCK: Creative and Critical Approaches to Cuteness - Friday 21 May 2021 


You are warmly invited to a virtual day seminar co-hosted by Royal Holloway and the University of Birmingham.  This event is organised by Caroline Harris (Poetic Practice PhD researcher, RHUL) and Dr Isabel Galleymore (UoB) and hosted at Royal Holloway by the Poetics Research Centre. 

aww-struck adj. the state of being overcome, surrounded or inspired by cuteness; to be filled with wonder at cute persons, nonhuman animals or objects (often edible); rendered speechless; unable to resist the impulse to coo or to stroke (sometimes leading to feelings of cute aggression). 

 Sianne Ngai explains in her landmark work, Our Aesthetic Categories, how a ‘surprisingly wide spectrum of feelings, ranging from tenderness to aggression’ can be provoked by such ‘unthreatening commodities’ as a squishy frog-shaped sponge. While cuteness might be understood as affiliated with pop culture, the emerging field of Cute Studies has challenged the distinction by exploring representations in art and literature. Attentive to its associations with ‘intimate address (lyric)...[and] unusually small, lapidary, object-like texts’, Ngai suggests avant-garde poetry might be theorised as an embodiment of cuteness. Elsewhere, Lori Merish has explored revealing intersections between cuteness, race and class in Toni Morrison’s novel The Bluest Eye. While some scholars have drawn attention to the problems of cuteness, others have outlined opportunities for productively widening our kinship circles to include nonhumans (Kalnay) or employing the concept in analysing pre-industrial-era works (Boyle and Kau). 

This one-day seminar aims to advance and expand the field of cute studies in the Arts and Humanities through creative and critical presentations and discussion. It will also launch a print publication bringing together work shared in the seminar and an accompanying online exhibition.  

You can register for the day via Eventbrite


Details of our speakers and panels, including RHUL students and international academics, are on our website

The seminar will be introduced by Professor Redell Olsen (RHUL) and Dr Megan Cavell (UoB).  

Follow us on Twitter @cutestudies   

This event is supported by Royal Holloway’s Humanities and Arts Research Institute.  


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