Comic Objectification Paper Wins Feminist Aesthetics Research Prize for Zoe Walker

12 April 2024

Trinity Career Development Fellow Zoe Walker has been announced as the winner of the inaugural Feminist Aesthetics Research Prize, for her paper on 'Comic Objectification.'

The American Society for Aesthetics prize was established to encourage new, unpublished work on feminist aesthetics. The papers are judged based on significance of the topic of issue, quality of the research, quality of the writing, originality, and contribution to the feminist literature within aesthetics that focuses on gender, race, class, ethnicity, and/or sexual preference/identity.

Dr Walker’s paper looks at the morality of comic objectification – that is, how laughing at someone can involve treating them as an object in multiple ways – and how this objectification can be alternately permissible or a mode of oppression.

Dr Walker says of her prize-winning paper: ‘In this paper, I bring together feminist work on objectification with philosophical analyses of comedy to argue that seeing someone as comic is a way of treating them as an object. This has both ethical and political implications: in particular, I argue that some social groups are systematically comically objectified, and that pervasive representations of them as comic objects play a role in legitimating their poor treatment by institutions and individuals.

‘I'm so pleased to have won this prize, and am very much looking forward to presenting the paper in Chicago at the ASA Annual Meeting, and getting comments on it from leading Aestheticians.’