Mimesis in black and white
Feminist aesthetics, negativity and semblance
in The new aestheticism

Rita Felski associates the project of feminist aesthetics with a desire to ascribe immanent gendered meanings to literary forms and styles, and thus with a problematic conflation of literary and political values. The ambiguity of mimetic semblance is compounded by its subtext of racist fantasies. Like Theodor Adorno, Homi Bhabha argues that the contradictory political regulation of mimetic semblance is motivated by the fear and subjugation of alterity. The central figures of the political regulation are paranoid projection, Negrophobia and the abjection of the black body. By reading Adorno, Joan Riviere, Bhabha and Frantz Fanon together, the chapter shows that the new psychic economies and social regulations of mimetic semblance in modernity provide a dubious and ideologically suspect alternative to instrumental rationality. Riviere focuses on the case of the white, intellectual, ambiguously homosexual woman.

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