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

  • Author / Creator
    Bickis, Heidi L J
  • 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.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2014
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • jagodzinski, jan (Secondary Education)
    • O'Driscoll, Michael (English)
    • Benjamin, Andrew (Monash University, School of English, Communications and Performance Studies)
    • Westerman, Richard (Sociology)