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216 × 138 mm
240 pages
67 illustrations
14 May 2018

Ugliness A Cultural History Gretchen E. Henderson

In this riveting book Gretchen E. Henderson explores perceptions of ugliness through history, from ancient Roman feasts to medieval grotesque gargoyles, from Mary Shelley’s monster cobbled from corpses to the Nazi Exhibition of Degenerate Art. Covering literature, art, music and even Uglydolls, Henderson reveals how ugliness has long posed a challenge to aesthetics and taste. Following ugly bodies and dismantling ugly senses across periods and continents, Ugliness: A Cultural History draws on a wealth of fields to cross cultures and times, delineating the changing map of ugliness as it charges the public imagination.

Now available in paperback, this book is illustrated with a range of artefacts and offers a refreshing perspective that moves beyond the surface to ask what ‘ugly’ truly is, even as its meaning continues to shift.

‘Gretchen Henderson’s cultural history of ugliness skates, at an entertainingly high speed, across large swathes of territory, cultural, historical and biological, always fascinating.’ – Times Literary Supplement

‘Ugliness in Henderson’s generous handling becomes a synonym for whatever is shocking, difficult, displeasing in one moment but reveals itself as containing real value and delight in the next.’ – The Guardian

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Gretchen E. Henderson is a Lecturer in English at Georgetown University and Affiliated Scholar in Art History at Kenyon College. Her recent books include The House Enters the Street (2012) and Galerie de difformité (2011).