Theory of the Gimmick: Aesthetic Judgment and Capitalist Form – Sianne Ngai



Christian Gauss Award Shortlist

Winner of the ASAP Book Prize

A Literary Hub Book of the Year

“Makes the case that the gimmick…is of tremendous critical value…Lies somewhere between critical theory and Sontag’s best work.”-Los Angeles Review of Books

“Ngai exposes capitalism’s tricks in her mind-blowing study of the time- and labor-saving devices we call gimmicks.”-New Statesman

“One of the most creative humanities scholars working today…My god, it’s so good.”-Literary Hub

“Ngai is a keen analyst of overlooked or denigrated categories in art and life…Highly original.”-4Columns

“It is undeniable that part of what makes Ngai’s analyses of aesthetic categories so appealing…is simply her capacity to speak about them brilliantly.”-Bookforum

“A page turner.”-American Literary History

Deeply objectionable and yet strangely attractive, the gimmick comes in many guises: a musical hook, a financial strategy, a striptease, a novel of ideas. Above all, acclaimed theorist Sianne Ngai argues, the gimmick strikes us both as working too little (a labor-saving trick) and working too hard (a strained effort to get our attention). When we call something a gimmick, we register misgivings that suggest broader anxieties about value, money, and time, making the gimmick a hallmark of capitalism.

With wit and critical precision, Ngai explores the extravagantly impoverished gimmick across a range of examples: the fiction of Thomas Mann, Helen DeWitt, and Henry James; the video art of Stan Douglas; the theoretical writings of Stanley Cavell and Theodor Adorno. Despite its status as cheap and compromised, the gimmick emerges as a surprisingly powerful tool in this formidable contribution to aesthetic theory.

In stock

ISBN: 9780674278745 Category: Tags: ,

Additional information

Weight 0.526 kg
Dimensions 23.495 × 15.557 × 2.9 cm










111.85 (edition:23)


College – higher education / Code: F