Gendered Mimesis (C1)

A gendered supplement to HOM this C1 project takes contemporary theories of gendered mimesis (or imitation) as a starting point to rethink subject formation. Adopting a comparative and interdisciplinary approach to behavioural imitation, it brings together critics of modernity such as Nietzsche and Adorno with contemporary European feminist philosophers to formulate a new ontology of the mimetic subject. Judith Butler, Catherine Malabou, and Adriana Cavarero in particular, respond to the new identity crises associated with gender, trauma, and sovereignty via concepts like “performativity,” “plasticity,” and “inclination” that urge new generations of feminist theorist to rethink the ancient problematic of mimesis from a gendered perspective. The general hypothesis of this project is that they propose a new theory of the subject which responds to the specifically mimetic paradoxes constitutive of gendered identities today.

Judith Butler - Wikipedia


Principal Investigator: Prof. Nidesh Lawtoo

Nidesh Lawtoo is Assistant Professor of Philosophy and English at KU Leuven and PI of HOM and Gendered Mimesis Projects. His work reframes the ancient concept of mimesis in light of recent developments in continental philosophy, literary theory, and political theory attentive to the contagious, affective, relationally inclined and plastic nature of imitation. The mimetic turn he promotes furthers lines of inquiry central to modernism, poststructuralism, psychoanalysis, affect theory, mimetic theory, stretching to include film studies and the neurosciences. He is the editor of Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and Contemporary Thought (2012), and guest edited a special issue of MLN“Poetics and Politics: with Lacoue Labarthe” (2017). His books include, The Phantom of the Ego: Modernism and the Mimetic Unconscious (2013), Conrad’s Shadow: Catastrophe, Mimesis, Theory (2016; Adam Gillon Award in Conrad Studies, best book of 2015-2017), and (New) Fascism: Contagion, Community, Myth (2019). He is currently at work on a manuscript titled, Violence and the Unconscious: Catharsis to Contagion (under contract) as well as on a mongraph on Oscar Wilde and the imitation of life. Institutional website here. For a complete list of publications see

Postdoctoral Researcher: Dr. Willow Verkerk.

Willow Verkerk is a Postdoctoral Researcher with the Gendered Mimesis Project at KU Leuven and a Philosophy Instructor at the University of British Columbia. She was previously a Lecturer in Modern European Philosophy at CRMEP, Kingston University (2016-2017) and an Associate Lecturer in Philosophy at St. Mary’s University (2017-2018). She is the author of Nietzsche and Friendship (Bloomsbury, 2019) and numerous academic articles and essays (see Willow’s current research brings together continental philosophy, literary studies, and feminist theory to rethink gendered being through the concept of mimesis. Her analysis provides a genealogical study of the post-Enlightenment subject to further trouble its dualistic, patriarchal, and Eurocentric scheme. Drawing on a Nietzschean legacy in critical theory, she creates a dialogue between this legacy and contemporary continental feminist philosophers working with recent notions of gendered mimesis, specifically performativity (Butler), plasticity (Malabou), and inclinations (Cavarero). As a Postdoctoral Researcher with the Gendered Mimesis project Willow will work on a manuscript provisionally titled Gendered Being: Ontology and Mimesis in the Post-Enlightenment Subject, and a series of related articles.

PhD Student: Giulia Rignano

Giulia Rignano is a PhD scholar at the Institute of Philosophy & The Faculty of Arts of KU Leuven within the Gendered Mimesis project and Associate Member of the HOM goup. She graduated in Philosophy at the University of Milan with a Master’s thesis in Aesthetics titled “Materiality and Matter in Gilles Deleuze and the New Materialisms”. Her research combines Neo-materialist perspectives, Mimetic processes and Feminist and Queer Theories. She has collaborated with the international research group IdEm. Identification, empathie, projection dans les arts du spectacle (CNRS, Paris). She is member of PIS. Performing Identities Seminar at the University of Milan and part of CONTRA/DIZIONI, a conference program on Queer and Feminist Theories based at the University of Milan.   Her PhD within the Gendered Mimesis project focuses on the role of mimetic processes in rethinking the Subject in Feminist Theory and Criticism, highlighting the performative, affective, and collective dimension of its constitution. P