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Stellenbosch Forum Webinar: The Politics of Cool: Masculine Subjectivities
Start: 19/08/2021, 13:00
End: 19/08/2021, 14:00
Contact:Whitney Prins -
Location: MS Teams

Stellenbosch Forum Webinar: The Politics of Cool: Masculine Subjectivities and the Art of Donald Glover and Mohau Modisakeng


Thursday, 19 August 2021 

13:00 - 14:00


A MS Teams link will be sent to all participants via e-mail.

Enquiries: Whitney Prins,


Writing in 2004, bell hooks suggests that some men respond to histories of patriarchal domination and emotional isolation through a “politics of cool". She ties the notion of cool to the ability to be 'real'. For her, this is epitomised by the vulnerability of Blues and Jazz musicians whose art was historically a form of lament. She contrasts this with the versions of rap and hip-hop which, she says, use 'cool' to distance men from their feelings. Whether empowering or a form of further disenfranchisement, the strategies of cool are the subject of this paper. Viljoen asks how the politics of cool intersects with race and gender. She considers the epistemology of 'cool' across different consumer media. The music video, This is America, it is argued, resists easy classification but expands the concept of and jouissance of 'cool' so that violence too becomes a kind of vulnerability, an expression of pain. The art of Mohau Modisakeng likewise pulls the politics of cool into the gallery and creates new possibilities for the sublimation of righteous anger. Through iterations of cool, certain masculine subjectivities are discussed as in tension with the dream of decolonisation and the transnational reality of capitalisation.


Prof Stella Viljoen

Stella Viljoen has an MA in History of Art and PhD in Media Studies. She is Associate Professor in the Department of Visual Arts where the cool kids learn to colour outside the lines.