Erotic Responsiveness: An Ethics of Auto/biographical Art-Writing

Georgiou, Diana. 2019. Erotic Responsiveness: An Ethics of Auto/biographical Art-Writing. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This thesis examines the relationship between auto/biographical art-writing and subjectivity by analysing the work of contemporary writers and poets. I frame art-writing as a psychophysical process that generates an erotic response to artwork. Through this framing, I develop an ethics of auto/biographical art-writing drawing from models of subjectivity that follow a relational ontology. I turn to feminist theories of affect and psychoanalysis as critical methodologies to invent an exploration of subjectivity catalyzed by the process of auto/biographical art-writing. For affect theory, I am mainly informed by philosopher and social-political theorist Teresa Brennan’s conceptualisation of affect as the physical transmission of energy between individuals and groups. The main psychoanalytic framework I employ draws from psychoanalyst, artist and theorist Bracha L. Ettinger’s conceptualisation of a Matrixial psychoanalysis that highlights the ‘nonconscious’ dimension of affect and aesthetics, amongst other important psychoanalytic developments. For the term ‘auto/biography’ I turn to feminist philosopher Adriana Cavarero, who proposes that the individual is essentially relational, co-affected and achieves temporary unity through hearing their life-story narrated by an other person. For the purposes of this research, auto/biographical narratives illustrate the singularity and uniqueness of the encounter between the artwork and the storyteller. I argue that personal memory and nonconscious activity create the conditions for an erotic response to an artwork’s ethical demand for what Teresa Brennan calls ‘living attention.’ That is, the dynamic exchange of affects and energy whose economy is primarily nonconscious, life-driven (Eros), and imprints subjectivity at the start of psychic life (pre-natal). By combining the theoretical advances of these three authors, I formulate a distinct model of relating to aesthetic experience and ensuing auto/biographical art-writing which I term erotic responsiveness. Following an analysis of writing by authors who employ auto/biographical methodologies to convey their aesthetic experiences, this research develops a broader framework for contemporary critical thinking about personal narratives, their uses in art-writing, and how they inform subjectivity.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


Ethics, Art-Writing, Auto/biography, Feminism, Psychoanalysis, Adriana Cavarero, Teresa Brennan, Bracha Ettinger

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Visual Cultures


31 July 2019

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

09 Sep 2019 10:10

Last Modified:

07 Sep 2022 17:15


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