Anaesthetics of Existence

Essays on Experience at the Edge

Anaesthetics of Existence

Book Pages: 280 Illustrations: 9 illustrations Published: May 2020

Gender and Sexuality > Feminism and Women’s Studies, Theory and Philosophy > Feminist Theory

“Experience” is a thoroughly political category, a social and historical product not authored by any individual. At the same time, “the personal is political,” and one's own lived experience is an important epistemic resource. In Anaesthetics of Existence Cressida J. Heyes reconciles these two positions, drawing on examples of things that happen to us but are nonetheless excluded from experience. If for Foucault an “aesthetics of existence” was a project of making one's life a work of art, Heyes's “anaesthetics of existence” describes anti-projects that are tacitly excluded from life—but should be brought back in. Drawing on critical phenomenology, genealogy, and feminist theory, Heyes shows how and why experience has edges, and analyzes phenomena that press against them. Essays on sexual violence against unconscious victims, the temporality of drug use, and childbirth as a limit-experience build a politics of experience while showcasing Heyes's much-needed new philosophical method.


“‘Anaesthetics of Existence,’ writes Cressida J. Heyes, ‘is a book about refusal, exclusion and liminality.’ More than this, it is a book about the unevenness of attention, about the tendency of bodies to flicker in and out of consciousness, and about extreme ordinariness and the increasing ordinariness of the extreme. This book is timely, original, and offers new insights within the philosophy of experience.” — Jack Halberstam, author of The Queer Art of Failure

“Incredibly smart, wide ranging, inventive, and timely, Cressida J. Heyes's Anaesthetics of Existence offers a detailed and philosophically rigorous phenomenological exploration of experience. Heyes does not merely report on phenomenology, she does it with an aliveness to her prose and an expansiveness to her thinking that feels fresh, original, and exciting. A marvelous book.” — Gayle Salamon, author of The Life and Death of Latisha King: A Critical Phenomenology of Transphobia


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Fall 2019 Sale
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Cressida J. Heyes is H. M. Tory Chair and Professor of Political Science and Philosophy at the University of Alberta and author of Self-Transformations: Foucault, Ethics, and Normalized Bodies and Line Drawings: Defining Women through Feminist Practice.

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Table of Contents Forthcoming
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Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-0826-2 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-0781-4
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