Essay Collection: Representations of Beauty and Violence

full name / name of organization: 
Maryna Romanets / University of Northern British Columbia
contact email: 

We are seeking essays that theorize the relationship between and inter-implication of beauty and violence in literature, film and art. While inquiring into the discursive constructions and multi-layered cultural re-enactments of the "violence mythos" (Whitmer), we are interested in the mechanisms of conversion whereby the seductive powers of aestheticized violence allow a reader/viewer to move past a "front-line vocabulary of cruelty" (Ackley) and become captivated by the beauty of such representations. How, in other words, do aesthetics intersect with violence?

Questions we would like the contributors to consider include, but are not limited to, the following:

• How do we theorize the beautiful representation of violence, or, indeed, the violent representation of beauty?
• How do we define beauty in the context of representations of violence?
• What makes violence—or the representation of it—beautiful?
• Is violence itself beautiful? Is beauty a "value added" product of representation?
• Is representation violent? Is representation beautiful?
• Is the virtuoso "performance" of violence in representation beautiful in so far as excellence might be considered beautiful? What is the relationship between form and content, skillful representation and the subject matter of represented violence? How is approbation solicited or deflected and to what end?
• How does beautiful violence engage with pleasure, disgust, enlightenment?
• Is beautiful violence regulatory, cathartic, subversive?
• What are the politics of beautiful violence?
• What is the history of beautiful violence?
• How does beautiful violence engage with categories of difference (race, class, gender, sexuality) and artistic value (high versus low art)?

Essays should provide concrete readings of particular works or a range of works supported by a strong theoretical framework. Essays should not have been published anywhere else. Please include a brief biography with your abstract stating your affiliation, specializations and any relevant work in this area of inquiry.

Send queries or 500w abstracts by AUGUST 31, 2009 to

Lisa Dickson
Associate Professor, English Program
University of Northern British Columbia (please note that the "l" is a lower-case "L," not a numeral 1)


Maryna Romanets
Associate Professor, English Program
University of Northern British Columbia