Receptive Bodies
by Leo Bersani
University of Chicago Press, 2018
Cloth: 978-0-226-57962-7 | Paper: 978-0-226-57976-4 | eISBN: 978-0-226-57993-1
Library of Congress Classification B105.B64B4695 2018
Dewey Decimal Classification 128.6

Leo Bersani, known for his provocative interrogations of psychoanalysis, sexuality, and the human body, centers his latest book around a surprisingly simple image: a newborn baby simultaneously crying out and drawing its first breath. These twin ideas—absorption and expulsion, the intake of physical and emotional nourishment and the exhalation of breath—form the backbone of Receptive Bodies, a thoughtful new essay collection. These titular bodies range from fetuses in utero to fully eroticized adults, all the way out to celestial giants floating in space. Bersani illustrates his exploration of the body’s capacities to receive and resist what is ostensibly alien using a typically eclectic set of sources, from the Marquis de Sade to Lars von Trier. This brief but wide-ranging book will excite scholars of Freud, Foucault, and the cinema, or anyone who’s ever stopped to ponder the give and take of human corporeality.

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