Co-editor and contributor Joyce Goggin and her home institution of the University of Amsterdam played host to the first of two events on cuteness to be held in the venerable university in the Dutch capital in 2015. All of the co-editors gave papers at the seminar, with Anthony P. McIntyre presenting his new research on the hit comedy Ted (2012) and the cult comedy drama Wilfred (2011-2014). This gave an opportunity for a discussion of how cuteness functions in relation to masculinities, with McIntyre suggesting that cuteness’s eminent plasticity enables its ability to exceed what Merish terms its primary function as “feminine spectacle” and open up markets of male-oriented consumerism. Representing animal cuteness, Diane Negra spoke about male celebrity in pet reality series and Joshua Dale theorized about cuteness, domestication, and subject / object relations. Joyce Goggin presented on cuteness and consumption, while Julia Leyda looked at intersections between cuteness and abjection. The group was also pleased to welcome perspectives on cuteness from Jinhee Choi (King’s College London), who spoke about Japanese cinema, and Annie Cummins (University College Cork), who discussed cuteness and performance.
The event also attracted a number of graduate students, including Ingeborg Hasselgren of the University of Sussex and Matt Cornell of the University of Amsterdam who are doing doctoral work on or in proximity to cuteness. This led to some very enlightening and engaging discussions and also confirmed the growing level of academic interest in the topic of cuteness. Perhaps most productive, however, were the open discussions in which audience members and speakers were able to draw exciting connections among the various strands of cuteness scholarship and identify key new directions for the future.
The seminar was funded with assistance from the Netherlands Institute for Cultural Analysis.