Cuteness is one of the most culturally pervasive aesthetics of the new millennium and its rapid social proliferation suggests that the affective responses it provokes find particular purchase in a contemporary era marked by intensive media saturation and spreading economic precarity. Rejecting superficial assessments that would deem the ever-expanding plethora of cute texts trivial, The Aesthetics and Affects of Cuteness directs serious scholarly attention from a variety of academic disciplines to this ubiquitous phenomenon. The sheer plasticity of this minor aesthetic is vividly on display in this collection which draws together analyses from around the world examining cuteness’s fundamental role in cultural expressions stemming from such diverse sources as military cultures, high-end contemporary art worlds, and animal shelters. Pushing beyond prevailing understandings that associate cuteness solely with childhood or which posit an interpolated parental bond as its primary affective attachment, the essays in this collection variously draw connections between cuteness and the social, political, economic, and technological conditions of the early twenty-first century and in doing so generate fresh understandings of the central role cuteness plays in the recalibration of contemporary subjectivities.
Table of Contents
1. The Aesthetics and Affects of Cuteness
2. The Appeal of the Cute Object: Desire, Domestication, and Agency
3. Cuteness and Control in Portal
4. ‘This Baby Sloth will Inspire You to Keep Going’: Capital, Labor, and the Affective Power of Cute Animal Videos
5. ‘I’ll be Dancin’: American Soldiers, Cute YouTube Performances, and the Deployment of Soft Power in the War on Terror
6. Live Cuteness 24/7: Performing Boredom on Animal Live Streams
7. When Awe Turns to Awww…: Jeff Koons’s Balloon Dog and the Cute Sublime
8. Cute 21st-Century Post-Fembots
9. Designing Affection: On the Curious Case of Machine-Based Cuteness
10. Soft and Hard: Accessible Masculinity, Celebrity, and Post-Millennial Cuteness
11. Affective Marketing and the Kuteness of Kiddles
12. Kittens, Farms, and Wild Pandas: The Impact of Cuteness in Adult Gamble-Play Media
13. Under the Yolk of Consumption: Re-Envisioning the Cute as Consumable
14. Ted, Wilfred, and the Guys: 21st-Century Masculinities, Raunch Culture, and the Affective Ambivalences of Cuteness
Joshua Paul Dale has edited a special journal issue on Cute Studies and created an online bibliography for this emerging field. Dale teaches cultural studies at Tokyo Gakugei University.
Joyce Goggin is a senior lecturer at the University of Amsterdam, where she teaches and conducts research in literature, film, television and media studies.
Julia Leyda is Associate Professor of Film Studies in the Department of Art and Media Studies at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim. She is co-editor of Extreme Weather and Global Media (Routledge, 2015) and Post-Cinema: Theorizing 21st-Century Film (REFRAME, 2016).
Anthony P. McIntyre is an Associate Lecturer in Film Studies at University College Dublin. He is currently finishing a monograph, Millennial Tensions: Generational Affect and Contemporary Screen Cultures.
Diane Negra is the author, editor or co-editor of ten books. A member of the Royal Irish Academy, she serves as Professor of Film Studies and Screen Cultures and Head of Film Studies at University College Dublin. She is Co-Editor-in-Chief of Television and New Media.