Guest Lecture, “Cute Studies: An Emerging Field”

CWU Cute Studies Talk PosterCentral Washington University
October 5, 2015

In this talk, co-editor and contributor Joshua Paul Dale explored basic questions crucial to the study of cuteness, such as: Is cuteness a function of subjective judgment, a quality inherent in the objects experienced as cute, or a complex interplay between the two? What to make of the power differential inherent in the relationship between an ostensibly powerless cute object and the subject who, in perceiving it as such, is reduced to cooing and “awwing”? Finally, what does the cuteness response reveal about human relationships: to objects, to each other, and to our companion species?

Dale provided a brief overview of the scientific research on cute affect to show how it has influenced scholarship on the aesthetics of cute, compared the English “cute” and the Japanese “kawaii,” examined the place of aggression and violence in cute aesthetics and affect, and analyzed the cuteness of domesticated animals in order to add important new attributes to the category of “cute,” and suggest some possibilities for further research into the human cuteness response.

We thank the William O. Douglas Honors College of Central Washington University for sponsoring this talk. In particular, we gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Anne Cubilie, Dominic Klyve, Christina Denison, and Michael Johnson for organizing this lecture.