Extravagant Bodies: Abjection in Art, Visual Culture and the Classroom

  • Susan B. Livingston
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Educational Futures book series (PSEF)


Individually, collectively, and culturally, bodies ooze, spurt, and explode beyond their boundaries. Psychoanalyst Julia Kristeva (Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection (L. Roudiez, Trans.). New York: Columbia University Press, 1982) explains that this excessiveness elicits not disgust but abjection, a state of simultaneous discomfort and pleasure, of fascinated victimhood. She identifies abjection as a prerequisite for ego formation and psychological development. Scholars have argued that the abject can apply to the sociocultural body as well as the personal. Within that social body, the abject appears in art, popular media, and children’s toys, creating a zone of transgressive pleasure and a powerful space of resistance. Weaving together K-12 interviews with a broad look at fine art and contemporary sites of visual culture, this chapter looks at the generative potential of extravagant bodies that push our limits and redefine our boundaries.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susan B. Livingston
    • 1
  1. 1.Indiana State UniversityTerre HauteUSA

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