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Social Theory Encounters Lines and Bodies: Engaging with the Visual Art of Betty Goodwin, Julie Mehretu, Guillermo Kuitca and Juan Munoz Open Access


Other title
Guillermo Kuitca
Julie Mehretu
Juan Munoz
Betty Goodwin
visual art
Jean-Francois Lyotard
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Bickis, Heidi L J
Supervisor and department
Shields, Rob (Sociology)
Eppert, Claudia (Secondary Education)
Examining committee member and department
jagodzinski, jan (Secondary Education)
Benjamin, Andrew (Monash University, School of English, Communications and Performance Studies)
Westerman, Richard (Sociology)
O'Driscoll, Michael (English)
Department of Sociology

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
This dissertation examines the lines in the work of four contemporary artists – Betty Goodwin, Julie Mehretu, Guillermo Kuitca and Juan Muñoz – and explores how these lines invite a particular kind of embodied viewing. Through this analysis of visual art and my own bodily engagements with the exhibited works, the dissertation reflects on how these art encounters encourage social theorists to consider lines and outlines as a potentially rich new vocabulary for theorizing bodies and embodiment. I focus on how the artworks draw out a “lineliness”; that is, the non-depictive and non-signifying quality of lines and their affective charges. Following Jean-François Lyotard, I emphasize the importance of line as line, before it becomes part of a signifier or form. I also examine the intangible and invisible lines that create bodily boundaries and forms (i.e. the shape, affective or physical, a body might take). The dissertation demonstrates that lines offer a crucial conceptual contribution to social theory and in particular to analyses of the fluid, uncontained and indeterminate aspects of bodies. Moreover, it illustrates the value of contemporary visual art for social researchers.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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