Most of us grew up with Aesop's Fables—tales of talking animals, with morals attached. In fact, the familiar versions of the stories attributed to this enigmatic and astute storyteller are based on adaptations of Aesop by the liberated Roman slave Phaedrus. In turn, Phaedrus's renderings have been rewritten so extensively over the centuries that they do not do justice to the originals. In Aesop's Human Zoo, legendary Cambridge classicist John Henderson puts together a surprising set of up-front translations—fifty sharp, raw, and sometimes bawdy, fables by Phaedrus into the tersest colloquial English verse.
Providing unusual insights into the heart of Roman culture, these clever poems open up odd avenues of ancient lore and life as they explore social types and physical aspects of the body, regularly mocking the limitations of human nature and offering vulgar or promiscuous interpretations of the stuff of social life.
Featuring folksy proverbs and satirical anecdotes, filled with saucy naughtiness and awful puns, Aesop's Human Zoo will amuse you with its eccentricities and hit home with its shrewdly candid and red raw messages. The entertainment offered in this volume of impeccably accurate translations is truly a novelty—a good-hearted and knowing laugh courtesy of classical poetry. Beginning to advanced classicists and Latin scholars will appreciate the original Latin text provided in this bilingual edition. The splash of classic Thomas Bewick wood engravings to accompany the fables renders the collection complete.
What will become of our earthly remains? What happens to our bodies during and after the various forms of cadaver disposal available? Who controls the fate of human remains? What legal and moral constraints apply? Legal scholar Norman Cantor provides a graphic, informative, and entertaining exploration of these questions. After We Die chronicles not only a corpse’s physical state but also its legal and moral status, including what rights, if any, the corpse possesses.
In a claim sure to be controversial, Cantor argues that a corpse maintains a “quasi-human status" granting it certain protected rights—both legal and moral. One of a corpse’s purported rights is to have its predecessor’s disposal choices upheld. After We Die reviews unconventional ways in which a person can extend a personal legacy via their corpse’s role in medical education, scientific research, or tissue transplantation. This underlines the importance of leaving instructions directing post-mortem disposal. Another cadaveric right is to be treated with respect and dignity. After We Die outlines the limits that “post-mortem human dignity” poses upon disposal options, particularly the use of a cadaver or its parts in educational or artistic displays.
Contemporary illustrations of these complex issues abound. In 2007, the well-publicized death of Anna Nicole Smith highlighted the passions and disputes surrounding the handling of human remains. Similarly, following the 2003 death of baseball great Ted Williams, the family in-fighting and legal proceedings surrounding the corpse’s proposed cryogenic disposal also raised contentious questions about the physical, legal, and ethical issues that emerge after we die. In the tradition of Sherwin Nuland's How We Die, Cantor carefully and sensitively addresses the post-mortem handling of human remains.
Agency and Embodiment
Carrie Noland Harvard University Press, 2009 Library of Congress HM636.N65 2009 | Dewey Decimal 306.4
In Agency and Embodiment, Carrie Noland examines the ways in which culture is both embodied and challenged through the corporeal performance of gestures. Arguing against the constructivist metaphor of bodily inscription dominant since Foucault, Noland maintains that kinesthetic experience, produced by acts of embodied gesturing, places pressure on the conditioning a body receives, encouraging variations in cultural practice that cannot otherwise be explained.
Bernd Herzogenrath’s An American Body|Politic is a study of the intersection between the material, biological body and body as political and cultural metaphor in American politics, religion, literature, and popular culture. Deeply influenced by the thought of Gilles Deleuze, Herzogenrath’s approach to American culture encompasses endless possibilities and potentials, eschewing the mechanic and structural. He traipses through American history and culture, pausing to examine such varied facets as the Puritans’ “two bodies,” Anne Hutchinson and the Antinomian Controversy, Cotton Mather and smallpox, the poetics|politics of Whitman, Henry Adams’s stroll along the shores of complexity, and the Detroit-based techno music of today.
Judith Farquhar’s innovative study of medicine and popular culture in modern China reveals the thoroughly political and historical character of pleasure. Ranging over a variety of cultural terrains--fiction, medical texts, film and television, journalism, and observations of clinics and urban daily life in Beijing—Appetites challenges the assumption that the mundane enjoyments of bodily life are natural and unvarying. Farquhar analyzes modern Chinese reflections on embodied existence to show how contemporary appetites are grounded in history. From eating well in improving economic times to memories of the late 1950s famine, from the flavors of traditional Chinese medicine to modernity’s private sexual passions, this book argues that embodiment in all its forms must be invented and sustained in public reflections about personal and national life. As much at home in science studies and social theory as in the details of life in Beijing, this account uses anthropology, cultural studies, and literary criticism to read contemporary Chinese life in a materialist and reflexive mode. For both Maoist and market reform periods, this is a story of high culture in appetites, desire in collective life, and politics in the body and its dispositions.
Pope John Paul's Theology of the Body catecheses has garnered tremendous popularity in theological and catechetical circles. Students of the Theology of the Body have generally interpreted it as innovative not only in its presentation of the Church's teaching on marriage and sexuality, but also as radically advancing that teaching. Aquinas and the Theology of the Body offers a somewhat different interpretation. Fr. Thomas Petri argues that the philosophy and theology of Thomas Aquinas substantially contributed to John Paul's intellectual formation, which he never abandoned. A correct interpretation of the Theology of the Body requires, therefore, a thorough understanding of Thomistic anthropology and theology, which has been mostly lacking in commentaries on the pope's important contributions on the subject of marriage and sexuality.
In 1987 poet and physician Jon Mukand published Sutured Words, a volume of contemporary poems to help patients, their families and friends, and all health care professionals embrace the complexity of healing, illness, and death. Robert Coles called the collection “a wonderful source of inspiration and instruction for any of us who are trying to figure out what our work means”; Norman Cousins was impressed by the “discernment and high quality of the selections.” Now, in Articulations, Mukand adds more than a hundred new poems to the strongest poems from Sutured Words to give us a lyrical, enlightened understanding of the human dimensions of suffering and illness
Over the past several decades, scholars in both the social sciences and humanities have moved beyond the idea that there is a “body proper”: a singular, discrete biological organism with an individual psyche. They have begun to perceive embodiment as dynamic rather than static, as experiences that vary over time and across the world as they are shaped by discourses, institutions, practices, technologies, and ideologies. What has emerged is a multiplicity of bodies, inviting a great many disciplinary points of view and modes of interpretation. The forty-seven readings presented in this volume range from classic works of social theory, history, and ethnography to more recent investigations into historical and contemporary modes of embodiment.
Beyond the Body Proper includes nine sections conceptually organized around themes such as everyday life, sex and gender, and science. Each section is preceded by interpretive commentary by the volume’s editors. Within the collection are articles and book excerpts focused on bodies using tools and participating in rituals, on bodies walking and eating, and on the female circumcision controversy, as well as pieces on medical classifications, spirit possession, the commodification of body parts, in vitro fertilization, and an artist/anatomist’s “plastination” of cadavers for display. Materialist, phenomenological, and feminist perspectives on embodiment appear along with writings on interpretations of pain and the changing meanings of sexual intercourse. Essays on these topics and many others challenge Eurocentric assumptions about the body as they speak to each other and to the most influential contemporary trends in the human sciences.
With selections by: Henry Abelove, Walter Benjamin, Janice Boddy, John Boswell, Judith Butler, Caroline Walker Bynum, Stuart Cosgrove, Michel de Certeau, Gilles Deleuze, Alice Domurat Dreger, Barbara Duden, Friedrich Engels, E. E. Evans-Pritchard, Judith Farquhar, Marcel Granet, Felix Guattari, Ian Hacking, Robert Hertz, Patricia Leyland Kaufert, Arthur Kleinman, Shigehisa Kuriyama, Jean Langford, Bruno Latour, Margaret Lock, Emily Martin, Karl Marx, Marcel Mauss, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Nancy K. Miller, Lisa Jean Moore, John D. O’Neil, Aihwa Ong, Mariella Pandolfi, Susan Pedersen, Gregory M. Pflugfelder, Rayna Rapp, Nancy Scheper-Hughes, Kristofer Schipper, Matthew Schmidt, Peter Stallybrass, Michael Taussig, Charis Thompson, E.P. Thompson, Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, Victor Turner, Terence Turner, Jose van Dijck, Keith Wailoo, Brad Weiss, Allon White
From biometrics to predictive policing, contemporary security relies on sophisticated scientific evidence-gathering and knowledge-making focused on the human body. Bringing together new anthropological perspectives on the complexities of security in the present moment, the contributors to Bodies as Evidence reveal how bodies have become critical sources of evidence that is organized and deployed to classify, recognize, and manage human life. Through global case studies that explore biometric identification, border control, forensics, predictive policing, and counterterrorism, the contributors show how security discourses and practices that target the body contribute to new configurations of knowledge and power. At the same time, margins of error, unreliable technologies, and a growing suspicion of scientific evidence in a “post-truth” era contribute to growing insecurity, especially among marginalized populations.
Contributors. Carolina Alonso-Bejarano, Gregory Feldman, Francisco J. Ferrándiz, Daniel M. Goldstein, Ieva Jusionyte, Amade M’charek, Mark Maguire, Joseph P. Masco, Ursula Rao, Antonius C. G. M. Robben, Joseba Zulaika, Nils Zurawski
From portrayals of African women’s bodies in early modern European travel accounts to the relation between celibacy and Indian nationalism to the fate of the Korean “comfort women” forced into prostitution by the occupying Japanese army during the Second World War, the essays collected in Bodies in Contact demonstrate how a focus on the body as a site of cultural encounter provides essential insights into world history. Together these essays reveal the “body as contact zone” as a powerful analytic rubric for interpreting the mechanisms and legacies of colonialism and illuminating how attention to gender alters understandings of world history. Rather than privileging the operations of the Foreign Office or gentlemanly capitalists, these historical studies render the home, the street, the school, the club, and the marketplace visible as sites of imperial ideologies.
Bodies in Contact brings together important scholarship on colonial gender studies gathered from journals around the world. Breaking with approaches to world history as the history of “the West and the rest,” the contributors offer a panoramic perspective. They examine aspects of imperial regimes including the Ottoman, Mughal, Soviet, British, Han, and Spanish, over a span of six hundred years—from the fifteenth century through the mid-twentieth. Discussing subjects as diverse as slavery and travel, ecclesiastical colonialism and military occupation, marriage and property, nationalism and football, immigration and temperance, Bodies in Contact puts women, gender, and sexuality at the center of the “master narratives” of imperialism and world history.
Contributors. Joseph S. Alter, Tony Ballantyne, Antoinette Burton, Elisa Camiscioli, Mary Ann Fay, Carter Vaughn Findley, Heidi Gengenbach, Shoshana Keller, Hyun Sook Kim, Mire Koikari, Siobhan Lambert-Hurley, Melani McAlister, Patrick McDevitt, Jennifer L. Morgan, Lucy Eldersveld Murphy, Rosalind O’Hanlon, Rebecca Overmyer-Velázquez, Fiona Paisley, Adele Perry, Sean Quinlan, Mrinalini Sinha, Emma Jinhua Teng, Julia C. Wells
The last thirty years of cultural theory have seen a vigorous analytic focus on the human body both as the subject of cultural representations and as an escape from their repressive influence. Rare is the account that focuses on the most obvious fact about the body: it is the stuff out of which human beings are made.
Generously and variously illustrated, this volume gathers together the work of literary critics and artists, classicists, art historians, and specialists on the history of the body, who survey the strangeness and variety with which the body has given human beings form. Richard Leppert traces how the representation of little girls responds directly to the cultural anxieties of modernity. René Girard plots how starvation becomes an art form, while Eric Gans surveys the contemporary phenomenon of body modification. Sander Gilman explores aesthetic surgery as a response to human unhappiness. Simon Goldhill discovers in the Roman empire the initial stirrings of institutions that focus on the spectacle of the body, and Cynthia S. Greig provides a glimpse of what the history of photography would look like if male nudes replaced female ones. Marion Jackson details how the different physical existence of the Inuit guides the way they make art. Joseph Grigely transforms aesthetics as usual by focusing on the disabled body, while Tobin Siebers describes the traumatic appeal in both fine art and the media of wounded flesh, whether human or animal.
The Body Aesthetic is a broad exercise in cultural studies and will address a variety of readers, from those interested in detailed, theoretical accounts of the body, to those interested in belles lettres, to those interested in fine art.
Tobin Siebers is Professor of English, University of Michigan.
Body and Nation interrogates the connections among the body, the nation, and the world in twentieth-century U.S. history. The idea that bodies and bodily characteristics are heavily freighted with values that are often linked to political and social spheres remains underdeveloped in the histories of America's relations with the rest of the world. Attentive to diverse state and nonstate actors, the contributors provide historically grounded insights into the transnational dimensions of biopolitics. Their subjects range from the regulation of prostitution in the Philippines by the U.S. Army to Cold War ideals of American feminine beauty, and from "body counts" as metrics of military success to cultural representations of Mexican migrants in the United States as public health threats. By considering bodies as complex, fluctuating, and interrelated sites of meaning, the contributors to this collection offer new insights into the workings of both soft and hard power.
Contributors. Frank Costigliola, Janet M. Davis, Shanon Fitzpatrick, Paul A. Kramer, Shirley Jennifer Lim, Mary Ting Yi Lui, Natalia Molina, Brenda Gayle Plummer, Emily S. Rosenberg, Kristina Shull, Annessa C. Stagner, Marilyn B. Young
In The Body in Late-Capitalist USA, Donald M. Lowe explores the varied social practices that code and construct the body. Arguing that our bodily lives are shaped by a complex of daily and ongoing practices—how we work, what we buy and consume—Lowe contends that as a result of the commodification of these and other social practices in the late-twentieth century, what we often understand to be the needs of the body are in fact means for capital accumulation. Moving beyond studies of representations and images of the body, Lowe focuses on the intersection of body practices, language, and the Social to describe concretely the reality of a lived body. His strongly synthetic work brings together Marxist critique, semiotics, Foucaultian discourse analysis, and systems and communications theory to examine those practices that construct the body under late capitalism: habits of work and consumption, the ways we give birth and raise children, socialization, mental and physical healing, reconstructions and contestations of sexuality and gender. Lowe draws upon a wide range of sources, including government and labor studies and statistics, diagnostic and statistical manuals on mental illness, computer manuals, self-help books, and guides to work-related stress disorders, to illustrate the transformation of the body into a nexus of exchange value in postmodern society.
Body Parts of Empire is a study of abjection in American visual culture and popular literature from the Philippine-American War (1899–1902). During this period, the American national territory expanded beyond its continental borders to islands in the Pacific and the Caribbean. Simultaneously, new technologies of vision emerged for imagining the human body, including the moving camera, stereoscopes, and more efficient print technologies for mass media.
Rather than focusing on canonical American authors who wrote at the time of U.S. imperialism, this book examines abject texts—images of naked savages, corpses, clothed native elites, and uniformed American soldiers—as well as bodies of writing that document the goodwill and violence of American expansion in the Philippine colony. Contributing to the fields of American studies, Asian American studies, and gender studies, the book analyzes the actual archive of the Philippine-American War and how the racialization and sexualization of the Filipino colonial native have always been part of the cultures of America and U.S. imperialism. By focusing on the Filipino native as an abject body of the American imperial imaginary, this study offers a historical materialist optic for reading the cultures of Filipino America.
Biological immunity as we know it does not exist until the late nineteenth century. Nor does the premise that organisms defend themselves at the cellular or molecular levels. For nearly two thousand years “immunity,” a legal concept invented in ancient Rome, serves almost exclusively political and juridical ends. “Self-defense” also originates in a juridico-political context; it emerges in the mid-seventeenth century, during the English Civil War, when Thomas Hobbes defines it as the first “natural right.” In the 1880s and 1890s, biomedicine fuses these two political precepts into one, creating a new vital function, “immunity-as-defense.” In A Body Worth Defending, Ed Cohen reveals the unacknowledged political, economic, and philosophical assumptions about the human body that biomedicine incorporates when it recruits immunity to safeguard the vulnerable living organism.
Inspired by Michel Foucault’s writings about biopolitics and biopower, Cohen traces the migration of immunity from politics and law into the domains of medicine and science. Offering a genealogy of the concept, he illuminates a complex of thinking about modern bodies that percolates through European political, legal, philosophical, economic, governmental, scientific, and medical discourses from the mid-seventeenth century through the twentieth. He shows that by the late nineteenth century, “the body” literally incarnates modern notions of personhood. In this lively cultural rumination, Cohen argues that by embracing the idea of immunity-as-defense so exclusively, biomedicine naturalizes the individual as the privileged focus for identifying and treating illness, thereby devaluing or obscuring approaches to healing situated within communities or collectives.
"A highly unique and refreshing contribution. Heywood not only theorizes the relationships among feminism, activism, and bodybuilding but also provides what so many works on built female bodies lack-a feminine historical context. . . . Heywood concludes with a call for women to 'feel our muscles, our power, our terrible, wonderful, monstrous strengths' by leaving behind aerobics, replacing light weights with heavy ones, and claiming our right to take up space. . . . Like all influential and groundbreaking works, this book raises new and important questions that should provide grist for much feminist debate and scholarship in coming years."-Signs "Bodymakers is most ambitious in terms of its engagement with feminist cultural criticism and its unconventional scope. Heywood comments on film, novels, magazine pictures, popular criticisms of feminism, the J. Crew catalog, [and] the concept of power feminism."-Gender and Society "In this brilliantly insightful and immensely readable book, Leslie Heywood makes us think about women's body building in an entirely new way. She argues persuasively that, far from being an individualistic, apolitical act, it is a powerful form of resistance, empowering women to overcome their victim status and heal past abuse." -Myra Dinnerstein, University of Arizona "Bodymakers has a power and an honesty that is unusual in a book with its theoretical sophistication." -Susan Bordo, author of Unbearable Weight and Twilight Zones: The Hidden Life of Cultural Images from Plato to O.J. "With clarity, force, and passionate investment grounded in both theory and her own experience, Heywood understands that women can strengthen body, mind, and spirit through everyday practice. Her argument that body building is this kind of activist practice is as inspirational as it is poignant." -Joanna Frueh, author of Erotic Faculties "Flexing her muscles through autobiographical, theoretical, and spectacular acts, Heywood insists that we read the muscular female body not as an 'extreme oddity' but as a 'form of activism' through which we can understand anew larger cultural issues and trends, including the American romance with individualism and the relationship of second and third wave feminisms. Muscular female bodies will never be read in the same way again." -Sidonie Smith, University of Michigan Women with muscles are a recent phenomenon, so recent that, while generating a good deal of interest, their importance to the cultural landscape has yet to be acknowledged. Leslie Heywood looks at the sport and image of female body building as a metaphor for how women fare in our current political and cultural climate. She argues that the movement in women's body building from small, delicate bodies to large powerful ones and back again is directly connected to progress and backlash within the abortion debate, the ongoing struggle for race and gender equality, and the struggle to define "feminism" in the context of the nineties. She discusses female body building as activism, as an often effective response to abuse, race and masculinity in body building, and the contradictory ways that photographers treat female body builders. Engaging and accessible, Bodymakers reveals how female body builders find themselves both trapped and empowered by their sport.
The Book of Skin
Steven Connor Reaktion Books, 2003 Library of Congress GN191.C66 2004b | Dewey Decimal 306.4
It is the largest and perhaps the most important organ of our body—it covers our fragile inner parts, defines our social identities, and channels our sensory experiences. And yet we rarely give a thought. With The Book of Skin, Steven Connor aims to change all that, offering an intriguing cultural history of skin.
Connor first examines physical issues such as leprosy, skin pigmentation, cancer, blushing, and attenuations of erotic touch. He also explains why specific colors symbolize certain emotions, such as green for envy or yellow for cowardice, as well as why skin is the focus of destructive rage in many people’s violent fantasies.
The Book of Skin then probes into how skin has been such a powerfully symbolic terrain in photography, religious iconography, cinema, and literature. From the Turin shroud to Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man to plastic surgery, The Book of Skin expertly examines the role of skin in Western culture. A compelling read that penetrates well beyond skin-deep, The Book of Skin validates James Joyce’s declaration that “modern man has an epidermis rather than a soul.”
“Richly conceived and elaborately thought out. No flicker of meaning has escaped Connor’s ferocious, all-seeing eye.”—Guardian
Moore, Pamela L Rutgers University Press, 1997 Library of Congress GV546.5.B85 1997 | Dewey Decimal 646.75
Building Bodies is an exciting collection of articles that strive toward constructing theoretical models in which power, bodies, discourse, and subjectivity interact in a space we can call the "built" body, a dynamic, politicized, and biological site. Contributors discuss the complex relationship between body building and masculinity, between the built body and the racialized body, representations of women body builders in print and in film, and homoeroticism in body building. Linked by their focus on the sport and practice of body building, the authors in this volume challenge both the way their various disciplines (media studies, literary criticism, gender studies, film and sociology) have gone about studying bodies, and existing assumptions about the complex relationship between power, subjectivity, society, and flesh. Body building--in practice, in representation, and in the cultural imagination--serves as an launching point because the sport and practice provide ready challenges to existing assumptions about the "built" body.
What happens when the body becomes art in the age of biotechnological reproduction? In Chinese Surplus Ari Larissa Heinrich examines transnational Chinese aesthetic production to demonstrate how representations of the medically commodified body can illuminate the effects of biopolitical violence and postcolonialism in contemporary life. From the earliest appearance of Frankenstein in China to the more recent phenomenon of "cadaver art," he shows how vivid images of a blood transfusion as performance art or a plastinated corpse without its skin—however upsetting to witness—constitute the new "realism" of our times. Adapting Foucauldian biopolitics to better account for race, Heinrich provides a means to theorize the relationship between the development of new medical technologies and the representation of the human body as a site of annexation, extraction, art, and meaning-making.
Richard Rambuss Duke University Press, 1998 Library of Congress PR438.D48R36 1998 | Dewey Decimal 820.9382309032
Religion and sex, body and soul, sacred and profane: In Closet Devotions, Richard Rambuss traces the relays between these cultural formations by examining the issue of “sacred eroticism,” the literary or artistic expression of devotional feelings in erotic terms that has repeatedly occurred over the centuries. Rather than dismissing such expression as mere convention, Rambuss takes it seriously as a form of erotic discourse, one that gives voice to desires that, outside the sphere of sacred rapture, would otherwise be deemed taboo. Through startling rereadings of works ranging from the devotional verse of the metaphysical poets (Donne, Herbert, Crashaw, and Traherne) to photographer Andres Serrano’s controversial “Piss Christ,” from Renaissance religious iconography to contemporary gay porn, Rambuss uncovers the highly charged erotic imagery that suffuses religious devotional art and literature. And he explores one of Christian culture’s most guarded (and literal) closets—the prayer closet itself, a privileged space where the vectors of same-sex desire can travel privately between the worshiper and his or her God. Elegantly written and theoretically astute, Closet Devotions illuminates the ways in which sacred Christian devotion is homoeroticized, a phenomenon that until now has gone unexplored in current scholarship on religion, the body, and its passions. This book will attract readers across a wide array of disciplines, including gay and lesbian studies, literary theory and criticism, Renaissance studies, and religion.
This volume examines the dynamic relationship between the body, clothing, and identity in sub-Saharan Africa and raises questions that have previously been directed almost exclusively to a Western and urban context. Unusual in its treatment of the body surface as a critical frontier in the production and authentification of identity, Clothing and Difference shows how the body and its adornment have been used to construct and contest social and individual identities in Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Kenya, and other African societies during both colonial and post-colonial times. Grounded in the insights of anthropology and history and influenced by developments in cultural studies, these essays investigate the relations between the personal and the public, and between ideas about the self and those about the family, gender, and national groups. They explore the bodily and material creation of the changing identities of women, spirits, youths, ancestors, and entrepreneurs through a consideration of topics such as fashion, spirit possession, commodity exchange, hygiene, and mourning. By taking African societies as its focus, Clothing and Difference demonstrates that factors considered integral to Western social development—heterogeneity, migration, urbanization, transnational exchange, and media representation—have existed elsewhere in different configurations and with different outcomes. With significance for a wide range of fields, including gender studies, cultural studies, art history, performance studies, political science, semiotics, economics, folklore, and fashion and textile analysis/design, this work provides alternative views of the structures underpinning Western systems of commodification, postmodernism, and cultural differentiation.
Human bodily existence is at the core of the Torah and the rest of the Hebrew Scriptures—from birth to death. From God’s creation of Adam out of clay, to the narratives of priests and kings whose regulations governed bodily practices, the Hebrew Bible focuses on the human body. Moreover, ancient Israel’s understanding of the human body has greatly influenced both Judaism and Christianity. Despite this pervasive influence, ancient Israel’s view of the human body has rarely been studied and, until now, has been poorly understood.
In this beautifully written book, Jon L. Berquist guides the reader through the Hebrew Bible, examining ancient Israel’s ideas of the body, the unstable roles of gender, the deployment of sexuality, and the cultural practices of the time. Conducting his analysis with reference to contemporary theories of the body, power, and social control, Berquist offers not only a description and clarification of ancient Israelite views of the body, but also an analysis of how these views belong to the complex logic of ancient social meanings. When this logic is understood, the familiar Bible becomes strange and opens itself to a wide range of new interpretations.
With the arrival of the transcontinental railroad in the 1880s came the emergence of a modern and profoundly multicultural New Mexico. Native Americans, working-class Mexicans, elite Hispanos, and black and white newcomers all commingled and interacted in the territory in ways that had not been previously possible. But what did it mean to be white in this multiethnic milieu? And how did ideas of sexuality and racial supremacy shape ideas of citizenry and determine who would govern the region?
Coyote Nation considers these questions as it explores how New Mexicans evaluated and categorized racial identities through bodily practices. Where ethnic groups were numerous and—in the wake of miscegenation—often difficult to discern, the ways one dressed, bathed, spoke, gestured, or even stood were largely instrumental in conveying one's race. Even such practices as cutting one's hair, shopping, drinking alcohol, or embalming a deceased loved one could inextricably link a person to a very specific racial identity.
A fascinating history of an extraordinarily plural and polyglot region, Coyote Nation will be of value to historians of race and ethnicity in American culture.
Reconceptualizes the relationship between participatory democracy, technology, and space.
The Internet has been billed by some proponents as an "electronic agora" ushering in a "new Athenian age of democracy." That assertion assumes that cyberspace's virtual environment is compatible with democratic practice. But the anonymous sociality that is intrinsic to the Internet seems at odds with theories of democracy that presuppose the possibility, at least, of face-to-face meetings among citizens. The Internet, then, raises provocative questions about democratic participation: Must the public sphere exist as a physical space? Does citizenship require a bodily presence?
In Cybering Democracy, Diana Saco boldly reconceptualizes the relationship between democratic participation and spatial realities both actual and virtual. She argues that cyberspace must be viewed as a produced social space, one that fruitfully confounds the ordering conventions of our physical spaces. Within this innovative framework, Saco investigates recent and ongoing debates over cryptography, hacking, privacy, national security, information control, and Internet culture, focusing on how different online practices have shaped this particular social space. In the process, she highlights fundamental issues about the significance of corporeality in the development of civic-mindedness, the exercise of citizenship, and the politics of collective action.
Diana Saco is an independent scholar based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Some historians contend that femininity was "disrupted, constructed and reconstructed" during World War I, but what happened to masculinity? Using the evidence of letters, diaries, and oral histories of members of the military and of civilians, as well as contemporary photographs and government propoganda, Dismembering the Male explores the impact of the First World War on the male body.
Each chapter explores a different facet of the war and masculinity in depth. Joanna Bourke discovers that those who were dismembered and disabled by the war were not viewed as passive or weak, like their civilian counterparts, but were the focus of much government and public sentiment. Those suffering from disease were viewed differently, often finding themselves accused of malingering.
Joanna Bourke argues convincingly that military experiences led to a greater sharing of gender identities between men of different classes and ages. Dismembering the Male concludes that ultimately, attempts to reconstruct a new type of masculinity failed as the threat of another war, and with it the sacrifice of a new generation of men, intensified.
Embodiment of a Nation
Cecelia TICHI Harvard University Press, 2001 Library of Congress E169.1.T543 2001 | Dewey Decimal 973
From Harriet Beecher Stowe's image of the Mississippi's "bosom" to Henry David Thoreau's Cape Cod as "the bared and bended arm of Massachusetts," the American environment has been represented in terms of the human body. Exploring such instances of embodiment, Cecelia Tichi exposes the historically varied and often contrary geomorphic expression of a national paradigm.
How does the body politic reflect the nature of human embodiment? To pursue this question in a new and productive way, James Mensch employs a methodology consistent with the fact of our embodiment; he uses Merleau-Ponty’s concept of "intertwining"—the presence of one’s self in the world and of the world in one’s self—to understand the ideas that define political life.
Mensch begins his inquiry by developing a philosophical anthropology based on this concept. He then applies the results of his investigation to the relations of power, authority, freedom, and sovereignty in public life. This involves confronting a line of interpretation, stretching from Hobbes to Agamben, which sees violence as both initiating and preserving the social contract. To contest this interpretation, Mensch argues against its presupposition, which is to equate freedom with sovereignty over others. He does so by understanding political freedom in terms of embodiment—in particular, in terms of the finitude and interdependence that our embodiment entails. Freedom, conceived in these terms, is understood as the gift of others. As a function of our dependence on others, it cannot exist apart from them. To show how public space and civil society presuppose this interdependence is the singular accomplishment of Embodiments. It accomplishes a phenomenological grounding for a new type of political philosophy.
"Young's linkage between critical race theory, historical inquiry, and performance studies is a necessary intersection. Innovative, creative, and provocative."
---Davarian Baldwin, Paul E. Raether Distinguished Professor of American Studies, Trinity College
In 1901, George Ward, a lynching victim, was attacked, murdered, and dismembered by a mob of white men, women, and children. As his lifeless body burned in a fire, enterprising white youth cut off his toes and, later, his fingers and sold them as souvenirs. In Embodying Black Experience, Harvey Young masterfully blends biography, archival history, performance theory, and phenomenology to relay the experiences of black men and women who, like Ward, were profoundly affected by the spectacular intrusion of racial violence within their lives. Looking back over the past two hundred years---from the exhibition of boxer Tom Molineaux and Saartjie Baartman (the "Hottentot Venus") in 1810 to twenty-first century experiences of racial profiling and incarceration---Young chronicles a set of black experiences, or what he calls, "phenomenal blackness," that developed not only from the experience of abuse but also from a variety of performances of resistance that were devised to respond to the highly predictable and anticipated arrival of racial violence within a person's lifetime.
Embodying Black Experience pinpoints selected artistic and athletic performances---photography, boxing, theater/performance art, and museum display---as portals through which to gain access to the lived experiences of a variety of individuals. The photographs of Joseph Zealy, Richard Roberts, and Walker Evans; the boxing performances of Jack Johnson, Joe Louis, and Muhammad Ali; the plays of Suzan-Lori Parks, Robbie McCauley, and Dael Orlandersmith; and the tragic performances of Bootjack McDaniels and James Cameron offer insight into the lives of black folk across two centuries and the ways that black artists, performers, and athletes challenged the racist (and racializing) assumptions of the societies in which they lived.
Blending humanistic and social science perspectives, Embodying Black Experience explains the ways in which societal ideas of "the black body," an imagined myth of blackness, get projected across the bodies of actual black folk and, in turn, render them targets of abuse. However, the emphasis on the performances of select artists and athletes also spotlights moments of resistance and, indeed, strength within these most harrowing settings.
Harvey Young is Associate Professor of Theatre, Performance Studies, and Radio/Television/Film at Northwestern University.
A volume in the series Theater: Theory/Text/Performance
In an era when human lives are increasingly measured and weighed in relation to the medical and scientific, notions of what is “normal” have changed drastically. While it is no longer useful to think of a person’s particular race, gender, sexual orientation, or choice as “normal,” the concept continues to haunt us in other ways. In The End of Normal, Lennard J. Davis explores changing perceptions of body and mind in social, cultural, and political life as the twenty-first century unfolds. The book’s provocative essays mine the worlds of advertising, film, literature, and the visual arts as they consider issues of disability, depression, physician-assisted suicide, medical diagnosis, transgender, and other identities.
Using contemporary discussions of biopower and biopolitics, Davis focuses on social and cultural production—particularly on issues around the different body and mind. The End of Normal seeks an analysis that works comfortably in the intersection between science, medicine, technology, and culture, and will appeal to those interested in cultural studies, bodily practices, disability, science and medical studies, feminist materialism, psychiatry, and psychology.
What is a body? What are our perceptions of our inner bodies? How are these perceptions influenced?
In recent years, thinking about the body has become highly fashionable. However, the renewed focus, while certainly welcome, seems to always end at the corporeal surface. While recent sociological and feminist theory has made important claims about the process of cultural inscription on the body, and about the cultural representation of the body, what actually appears in this new theory seems to be, ironically, disembodied. If this newly theorized form has interiority, it is one that is explained predominantly through psychoanalysis. The physiological processes remain a mystery to be explained, if at all, only in the esoteric language of biomedicine.
As a trained biologist, Lynda Birke was frustrated by the gap between feminist cultural analysis and her own scientific background. In this book, she seeks to bridge this gap using ideas in anatomy and physiology to develop the feminist view that the biological body is socially and culturally constructed. Birke rejects the assumption that bodily function is somehow fixed and unchanging, claiming that biology offers more than just a deterministic narrative of how nature works. Feminism and the Biological Body brings natural science and feminist theory together and suggests that we need a new politics that includes, rather than denies, our flesh.
The essays in this interdisciplinary collection share the conviction that modern western paradigms of knowledge and reality are gender-biased. Some contributors challenge and revise western conceptions of the body as the domain of the biological and 'natural, ' the enemy of reason, typically associated with women.
Gift and Communion
Jaroslaw Kupczak Catholic University of America Press, 2014 Library of Congress BX1795.B63K8713 2014 | Dewey Decimal 233.5
Gift and Communion offers a critical presentation of John Paul II's theology of the body, understood in the light of Christian theological tradition. The main thesis of the book is that John Paul II's theology of the body forms a new, inspiring approach to Christian ethics and the theology of marriage and family, as well as to theological anthropology. A central thrust of Gift and Communion is to treat theology of the body - as it deserves - in all its philosophical and theological seriousness and to present it as an important stage in the historical development of Catholic theology
Historicizing Fat in Anglo-American Culture, edited by Elena Levy-Navarro, is the first collection of essays to offer a historical consideration of fat bodies in Anglophone culture. The interdisciplinary essays cover periods from the medieval to the contemporary, mapping out a new terrain for historical consideration. These essays question many of the commonplace assumptions that circulate around the category of fat: that fat exists as a natural and transhistorical category; that a premodern period existed which universally celebrated fat and knew no fatphobia; and that the thin, youthful body, as the presumptively beautiful and healthy one, should be the norm by which to judge other bodies.
The essays begin with a consideration of the interrelationship between the rise of weight-watching and the rise of the novel. The essays that follow consider such wide-ranging figures as the fat child’s body as a contested site in post-Blair U.K. and in Lord of the Flies; H. G. Wells; Wilkie Collins’s subversively performative Fosco; Ben Jonson; the voluptuous Lillian Russell; Shakespeare’s Venus and Adonis; the opera diva; and the fat feminist activists of recent San Francisco. In developing their histories in a self-conscious way that addresses the pervasive fatphobia of the present-day Anglophone culture, Historicizing Fat suggests ways in which scholarship and criticism in the humanities can address, resist, and counteract the assumptions of late modern culture.
From the lazy, fiddling grasshopper to the sneaky Big Bad Wolf, children’s stories and fables enchant us with their portrayals of animals who act like people. But the comparisons run both ways, as metaphors, stories, and images—as well as scientific theories—throughout history remind us that humans often act like animals, and that the line separating them is not as clear as we’d like to pretend.
Here Martin Kemp explores a stunning range of images and ideas to demonstrate just how deeply these underappreciated links between humans and other fauna are embedded in our culture. Tracing those interconnections among art, science, and literature, Kemp leads us on a dazzling tour of Western thought, from Aristotelian physiognomy and its influence on phrenology to the Great Chain of Being and Darwinian evolution. We learn about the racist anthropology underlying a familiar Degas sculpture, see paintings of a remarkably simian Judas, and watch Mowgli, the man-child from Kipling’s The Jungle Book, exhibit the behaviors of the beasts who raised him. Like a kaleidoscope, Kemp uses these stories to refract, reconfigure, and echo the essential truth that the way we think about animals inevitably inflects how we think about people, and vice versa.
Loaded with vivid illustrations and drawing on sources from Hesiod to La Fontaine, Leonardo to P. T. Barnum, The Human Animal in Western Art and Science is a fascinating, eye-opening reminder of our deep affinities with our fellow members of the animal kingdom.
The injuries suffered by soldiers during WWI were as varied as they were brutal. How could the human body suffer and often absorb such disparate traumas? Why might the same wound lead one soldier to die but allow another to recover?
In The Human Body in the Age of Catastrophe, Stefanos Geroulanos and Todd Meyers uncover a fascinating story of how medical scientists came to conceptualize the body as an integrated yet brittle whole. Responding to the harrowing experience of the Great War, the medical community sought conceptual frameworks to understand bodily shock, brain injury, and the vast differences in patient responses they occasioned. Geroulanos and Meyers carefully trace how this emerging constellation of ideas became essential for thinking about integration, individuality, fragility, and collapse far beyond medicine: in fields as diverse as anthropology, political economy, psychoanalysis, and cybernetics.
Moving effortlessly between the history of medicine and intellectual history, The Human Body in the Age of Catastrophe is an intriguing look into the conceptual underpinnings of the world the Great War ushered in.
The "woman question," this book asserts, is a Western one, and not a proper lens for viewing African society. A work that rethinks gender as a Western construction, The Invention of Women offers a new way of understanding both Yoruban and Western cultures.
Author Oyeronke Oyewumi reveals an ideology of biological determinism at the heart of Western social categories--the idea that biology provides the rationale for organizing the social world. And yet, she writes, the concept of "woman," central to this ideology and to Western gender discourses, simply did not exist in Yorubaland, where the body was not the basis of social roles.
Oyewumi traces the misapplication of Western, body-oriented concepts of gender through the history of gender discourses in Yoruba studies. Her analysis shows the paradoxical nature of two fundamental assumptions of feminist theory: that gender is socially constructed and that the subordination of women is universal. The Invention of Women demonstrates, to the contrary, that gender was not constructed in old Yoruba society, and that social organization was determined by relative age.
A meticulous historical and epistemological account of an African culture on its own terms, this book makes a persuasive argument for a cultural, context-dependent interpretation of social reality. It calls for a reconception of gender discourse and the categories on which such study relies. More than that, the book lays bare the hidden assumptions in the ways these different cultures think. A truly comparative sociology of an African culture and the Western tradition, it will change the way African studies and gender studies proceed.
"OyewÃ¹mi's book is a departure from the majority of feminist writers on Africa. She goes further to show a society almost unintelligible using the common set of presumptions in feminist literature about how society is organized. Her indignation is real and forceful and her research and lucid presentation admirable." Modern African Studies
"Oyewumi's work is an extremely interesting study that forces readers to rethink some of the accepted notions of colonialism." National Women's Studies Association Journal
Oyeronke Oyewumi is assistant professor in the Department of Black Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara
Michael Jackson’s Lifeworlds is a masterful collection of essays, the culmination of a career aimed at understanding the relationship between anthropology and philosophy. Seeking the truths that are found in the interstices between examiner and examined, world and word, and body and mind, and taking inspiration from James, Dewey, Arendt, Husserl, Sartre, Camus, and, especially, Merleau-Ponty, Jackson creates in these chapters a distinctive anthropological pursuit of existential inquiry. More important, he buttresses this philosophical approach with committed empirical research.
Traveling from the Kuranko in Sierra Leone to the Maori in New Zealand to the Warlpiri in Australia, Jackson argues that anthropological subjects continually negotiate—imaginatively, practically, and politically—their relations with the forces surrounding them and the resources they find in themselves or in solidarity with significant others. At the same time that they mirror facets of the larger world, they also help shape it. Stitching the themes, peoples, and locales of these essays into a sustained argument for a philosophical anthropology that focuses on the places between, Jackson offers a pragmatic understanding of how people act to make their lives more viable, to grasp the elusive, to counteract external powers, and to turn abstract possibilities into embodied truths.
“We've needed a book like Many Mirrors for a long time. In the veritable explosion of new scholarship on the human body, this book stands out in its focus on empirical research. Many Mirrors will move . . . the Anthropology of the Body a giant step forward.”--C. H. Browner, University of California at Los Angeles
In every society, people define and change their physical appearance in response to their relationships to others: we add clothes and masks, remove them, build up our muscles, perforate our flesh, cut parts away, comb our hair, and modify our diets. In rural Jamaica, fat women are considered desirable; in American suburbia, teenage girls are obsessed with thinness. Bedouin women use tattoos to express their secret longings; Asian American women undergo cosmetic surgery to conform to internalized western standards of beauty. Even with mirrors to see ourselves, we rely on the reactions of others to learn how we look and who we are.
Where contemporary Western culture sees the body as a concrete thing with an objective, observable reality, separate from the self, many other societies regard the person as an integrated whole that includes the mind, the body, and the spirit. Through the contributors' studies of individual cultures and through the editor’s unifying “body image system”, this volume gives us a new conceptual framework for understanding how women and men in any society perceive, describe, and alter their bodies.
The headlong rush, the rapid montage, the soaring superhero, the plunging roller coaster—Matters of Gravity focuses on the experience of technological spectacle in American popular culture over the past century. In these essays, leading media and cultural theorist Scott Bukatman reveals how popular culture tames the threats posed by technology and urban modernity by immersing people in delirious kinetic environments like those traversed by Plastic Man, Superman, and the careening astronauts of 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Right Stuff. He argues that as advanced technologies have proliferated, popular culture has turned the attendant fear of instability into the thrill of topsy-turvydom, often by presenting images and experiences of weightless escape from controlled space.
Considering theme parks, cyberspace, cinematic special effects, superhero comics, and musical films, Matters of Gravity highlights phenomena that make technology spectacular, permit unfettered flights of fantasy, and free us momentarily from the weight of gravity and history, of past and present. Bukatman delves into the dynamic ways pop culture imagines that apotheosis of modernity: the urban metropolis. He points to two genres, musical films and superhero comics, that turn the city into a unique site of transformative power. Leaping in single bounds from lively descriptions to sharp theoretical insights, Matters of Gravity is a deft, exhilarating celebration of the liberatory effects of popular culture.
edited by Dana Rosenfeld and Christopher A. Faircloth Temple University Press, 2006 Library of Congress RA564.83.M43 2006 | Dewey Decimal 613.04234
When medicalization—the characterization of human traits in terms of disease and ailment—first appeared as a concept in the 1970s, most social science gender scholarship focused on female or genderless bodies. The work on men, health, and medicine was scant and tended to depict masculinity as intrinsically damaging to men's health.
Medicalized Masculinities considers how these threads in scholarship failed to consider the male body adequately and presents cutting-edge research into the definition and regulation of masculinity by medicine. Renowned health and gender studies experts examine medicalized conditions such as balding, aging, and other dimensions of the life cycle in the tradition of the sociology of health and gender.
What might result from hearing a particular song, wearing used clothing, or witnessing an accident? Ethnographic accounts of the Navajo refer repeatedly to the influences of events on health and well-being, yet until now no attempt has been made to clarify the Navajo system of rules governing association and effect. This book focuses on the complex interweaving of the cosmological, social, and bodily realms that Navajo people navigate in an effort alternately to control, contain, or harness the power manifested in various effects. Following the Navajo life-course from conception to puberty, Maureen Trudelle Schwarz explores the complex rules defining who or what can affect what or whom in specific circumstances as a means of determining what these effects tell us about the cultural construction of the human body and personhood for the Navajo. Schwarz shows how oral history informs Navajo conceptions of the body and personhood, showing how these conceptions are central to an ongoing Navajo identity. She treats the vivid narratives of emergence life-origins as compressed metaphorical accounts, rather than as myth, and is thus able to derive from what individual Navajos say about the past their understandings of personhood in a worldview that is actually a viable philosophical system. Working with Navajo religious practitioners, elders, and professional scholars. Schwarz has gained from her informants an unusually firm grasp of the Navajo highlighted by the foregrounding of Navajo voices through excerpts of interviews. These passages enliven the book and present Schwarz and her Navajo consultants as real, multifaceted human beings within the ethnographic context.
At different times and in different places, the human form has been regarded in different ways. The Ancient Greeks thought it was the most admirable subject for art, whereas early Christians often viewed it as lascivious in our post-lapsarian state. With illustrations taken from manuscripts, statuary and literary, this is a fascinating collection of essays with much that will be new to scholars and general readers alike.
The Naked Blogger of Cairo
Marwan M. Kraidy Harvard University Press, 2016 Library of Congress JQ1850.A91K72 2016 | Dewey Decimal 909.097492708312
Across the Arab world, protesters voiced dissent through slogans, graffiti, puppetry, videos, and satire that called for the overthrow of dictatorial regimes. Investigating what drives people to risk everything to express themselves in rebellious art, Marwan M. Kraidy uncovers the creative insurgency at the heart of the Arab uprisings of 2010–2012.
National Abjection explores the vexed relationship between "Asian Americanness" and "Americanness” through a focus on drama and performance art. Karen Shimakawa argues that the forms of Asian Americanness that appear in U.S. culture are a function of national abjection—a process that demands that Americanness be defined by the exclusion of Asian Americans, who are either cast as symbolic foreigners incapable of integration or Americanization or distorted into an “honorary” whiteness. She examines how Asian Americans become culturally visible on and off stage, revealing the ways Asian American theater companies and artists respond to the cultural implications of this abjection.
Shimakawa looks at the origins of Asian American theater, particularly through the memories of some of its pioneers. Her examination of the emergence of Asian American theater companies illuminates their strategies for countering the stereotypes of Asian Americans and the lack of visibility of Asian American performers within the theater world. She shows how some plays—Wakako Yamauchi’s 12-1-A, Frank Chin’s Chickencoop Chinaman, and The Year of the Dragon—have both directly and indirectly addressed the displacement of Asian Americans. She analyzes works attempting to negate the process of abjection—such as the 1988 Broadway production of M. Butterfly as well as Miss Saigon, a mainstream production that enacted the process of cultural displacement both onstage and off. Finally, Shimakawa considers Asian Americanness in the context of globalization by meditating on the work of Ping Chong, particularly his East-West Quartet.
In this pathbreaking philosophical work, Elizabeth Grosz points the way toward a theory of becoming to replace the prevailing ontologies of being in social, political, and biological discourse. Arguing that theories of temporality have significant and underappreciated relevance to the social dimensions of science and the political dimensions of struggle, Grosz engages key theoretical concerns related to the reality of time. She explores the effect of time on the organization of matter and on the emergence and development of biological life. Considering how the relentless forward movement of time might be conceived in political and social terms, she begins to formulate a model of time that incorporates the future and its capacity to supersede and transform the past and present.
Grosz develops her argument by juxtaposing the work of three major figures in Western thought: Charles Darwin, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Henri Bergson. She reveals that in theorizing time as an active, positive phenomenon with its own characteristics and specific effects, each of these thinkers had a profound effect on contemporary understandings of the body in relation to time. She shows how their allied concepts of life, evolution, and becoming are manifest in the work of Gilles Deleuze and Luce Irigaray. Throughout The Nick of Time, Grosz emphasizes the political and cultural imperative to fundamentally rethink time: the more clearly we understand our temporal location as beings straddling the past and the future without the security of a stable and abiding present, the more transformation becomes conceivable.
Once Out of Nature offers an original interpretation of Augustine’s theory of time and embodiment. Andrea Nightingale draws on philosophy, sociology, literary theory, and social history to analyze Augustine’s conception of temporality, eternity, and the human and transhuman condition.
In Nightingale’s view, the notion of embodiment illuminates a set of problems much larger than the body itself: it captures the human experience of being an embodied soul dwelling on earth. In Augustine’s writings, humans live both in and out of nature—exiled from Eden and punished by mortality, they are “resident aliens” on earth. While the human body is subject to earthly time, the human mind is governed by what Nightingale calls psychic time. For the human psyche always stretches away from the present moment—where the physical body persists—into memories and expectations. As Nightingale explains, while the body is present in the here and now, the psyche cannot experience self-presence. Thus, for Augustine, the human being dwells in two distinct time zones, in earthly time and in psychic time. The human self, then, is a moving target. Adam, Eve, and the resurrected saints, by contrast, live outside of time and nature: these transhumans dwell in an everlasting present.
Nightingale connects Augustine’s views to contemporary debates about transhumans and suggests that Augustine’s thought reflects our own ambivalent relationship with our bodies and the earth. Once Out of Nature offers a compelling invitation to ponder the boundaries of the human.
Pain, Death, and the Law
Austin Sarat, Editor University of Michigan Press, 2001 Library of Congress KF9227.C2P35 2001 | Dewey Decimal 345.730773
This collection of essays examines the relationship between pain, death, and the law and addresses the question of how the law constructs pain and death as jurisprudential facts. The empirical focus of these essays enables the reader to delve into both the history and the theoretical complexities of the pain-death-law relationship. The combination of the theoretical and the empirical broadens the contribution this volume will undoubtedly make to debates in which the right to live or die is the core issue at hand.
This volume will be an important read for policy makers and legal practitioners and a valuable text for courses in law, the social sciences, and the humanities.
Austin Sarat is William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science, Amherst College.
In Poetics of the Flesh Mayra Rivera offers poetic reflections on how we understand our carnal relationship to the world, at once spiritual, organic, and social. She connects conversations about corporeality in theology, political theory, and continental philosophy to show the relationship between the ways ancient Christian thinkers and modern Western philosophers conceive of the "body" and "flesh.” Her readings of the biblical writings of John and Paul as well as the work of Tertullian illustrate how Christian ideas of flesh influenced the works of Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Michel Foucault, and inform her readings of Judith Butler, Frantz Fanon, and others. Rivera also furthers developments in new materialism by exploring the intersections among bodies, material elements, social arrangements, and discourses through body and flesh. By painting a complex picture of bodies, and by developing an account of how the social materializes in flesh, Rivera provides a new way to understand gender and race.
In The Politics of Dialogic Imagination, Katsuya Hirano seeks to understand why, with its seemingly unrivaled power, the Tokugawa shogunate of early modern Japan tried so hard to regulate the ostensibly unimportant popular culture of Edo (present-day Tokyo)—including fashion, leisure activities, prints, and theater. He does so by examining the works of writers and artists who depicted and celebrated the culture of play and pleasure associated with Edo’s street entertainers, vagrants, actors, and prostitutes, whom Tokugawa authorities condemned to be detrimental to public mores, social order, and political economy.
Hirano uncovers a logic of politics within Edo’s cultural works that was extremely potent in exposing contradictions between the formal structure of the Tokugawa world and its rapidly changing realities. He goes on to look at the effects of this logic, examining policies enacted during the next era—the Meiji period—that mark a drastic reconfiguration of power and a new politics toward ordinary people under modernizing Japan. Deftly navigating Japan’s history and culture, The Politics of Dialogic Imaginationprovides a sophisticated account of a country in the process of radical transformation—and of the intensely creative culture that came out of it.
The Pope's Body
Agostino Paravicini-Bagliani University of Chicago Press, 2000 Library of Congress BX1069.5.P3713 2000 | Dewey Decimal 262.13
In contrast to the role traditionally fulfilled by secular rulers, the pope has been perceived as an individual person existing in a body subject to decay and death, yet at the same time a corporeal representation of Christ and the Church, eternity and salvation. Using an array of evidence from the eleventh through the fifteenth centuries, Agostino Paravicini- Bagliani addresses this paradox. He studies the rituals, metaphors, and images of the pope's body as they developed over time and shows how they resulted in the expectation that the pope's body be simultaneously physical and metaphorical. Also included is a particular emphasis on the thirteenth century when, during the pontificate of Boniface VIII (1294-1303), the papal court became the focus of medicine and the natural sciences as physicians devised ways to protect the pope's health and prolong his life.
Masterfully translated from the Italian, this engaging history of the pope's body provides a new perspective for readers to understand the papacy, both historically and in our own time.
Medicine has always been an emotionally and spiritually challenging profession. Today, confronted with the rapid progress of technology, the shifting sands of health care economics, and glaring disparities in health care and human rights, physicians experience challenges that grow constantly more demanding. As a result, many doctors attempt to build into their lives opportunities for reflection and self-awareness. It is in this context that medical poetry has blossomed.Primary Care, the second anthology of physician poems edited by Angela Belli and Jack Coulehan, proves that the poetry movement in medicine continues to flourish. Fifty-two contemporary physician poets contribute one hundred poems that explore medical practice, interpersonal relationships, and the modern world. Their poems record instances of pain and suffering, joy and grief, humor and irony. Their subjects range from caregivers, patients, trainees, and teachers to poverty, injustice, and war throughout the world.In some cases we find the poets in their professional milieu as they reveal interactions with patients and colleagues. Other poems address private worlds and family relationships. In others the poets turn outward and direct their attention to social and global concerns. Characterized by an immense and kind-hearted sympathy for and empathy with those who are suffering, the poets recognize that everyone’s life is diminished by the trauma of illness and death.
The Prince's Body
Valeria Finucci Harvard University Press, 2015 Library of Congress DG975.M32F46 2015 | Dewey Decimal 610.945
Using four notorious moments in the life of Duke Vincenzo Gonzaga of Mantua, Valeria Finucci explores changing early modern concepts of sexuality, reproduction, beauty, and aging. She deftly marries salacious tales with historical analysis to tell a broader story of Italian Renaissance cultural adjustments and obsessions.
Liberal individualism, a foundational concept of American politics, assumes an essentially homogeneous population of independent citizens. When confronted with physical disability and the contradiction of seemingly unruly bodies, however, the public searches for a story that can make sense of the difference. The narrative that ensues makes "abnormality" an important part of the dialogue about what a genuine citizen is, though its role is concealed as an exception to the rule of individuality rather than a defining difference. Reading Embodied Citizenship brings disability to the forefront, illuminating its role in constituting what counts as U.S. citizenship.
Drawing from major figures in American literature, including Mark Twain, Flannery O'Connor, Carson McCullers, and David Foster Wallace, as well as introducing texts from the emerging canon of disability studies, Emily Russell demonstrates the place of disability at the core of American ideals. The narratives prompted by the encounter between physical difference and the body politic require a new understanding of embodiment as a necessary conjunction of physical, textual, and social bodies. Russell examines literature to explore and unsettle long-held assumptions about American citizenship.
Reading The Social Body
Catherine B. Burroughs University of Iowa Press, 1993 Library of Congress GT495.R43 1993 | Dewey Decimal 391.6
The overarching argument of Reading the Social Body is that the body is cultural rather than “natural.” Some of the essays treat the social construction of bodies that have actually existed in human history; others discuss the representation of bodies in artistic contexts; all recognize that everything visible to the human body—from posture and costume to the width of an eyebrow or a smile—is determined by and shaped in response to a particular culture.
Leo Bersani University of Chicago Press, 2018 Library of Congress B105.B64B4695 2018 | Dewey Decimal 128.6
Leo Bersani, known for his provocative interrogations of psychoanalysis, sexuality, and the human body, centers his latest book on 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 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 literary icons like Marquis de Sade to cinematic provocateurs such as Bruno Dumont and Lars von Trier. This sharp and wide-ranging book will excite scholars of Freud, Foucault, and film studies, or anyone who has ever stopped to ponder the give and take of human corporeality.
Elizabeth Arnold University of Chicago Press, 1998 Library of Congress PS3551.R4846R44 1999 | Dewey Decimal 811.54
Elizabeth Arnold's first book of poems documents her struggle with cancer. A book-length sequence of poems, The Reef rockets the reader through a Heraclitean chute of accelerated life experience by way of anecdote, satire, facts from medical science, and lyrical sweep. This multilayered work explores the depths of illness, investigating the way one's attitude toward it changes over time and how one gathers and processes information in order to make sense of it.
"Arnold's poetry, much more mature than most writers' first book, links lyrics, slight narratives, and a bit of satire into a work of glorious affirmation. The book is a splendid read."—Mary Sue Koeppel, Florida Times-Union
"For this commitment to both the autobiographical honesty and aesthetic risk, The Reef should be valuable to anyone who has been waiting for where contemporary American poetry is going."—Agni
Haunted by representations of black women that resist the reality of the body's vulnerability, Kimberly Juanita Brown traces slavery's afterlife in black women's literary and visual cultural productions. Brown draws on black feminist theory, visual culture studies, literary criticism, and critical race theory to explore contemporary visual and literary representations of black women's bodies that embrace and foreground the body's vulnerability and slavery's inherent violence. She shows how writers such as Gayl Jones, Toni Morrison, Audre Lorde, and Jamaica Kincaid, along with visual artists Carrie Mae Weems and María Magdalena Campos-Pons, highlight the scarred and broken bodies of black women by repeating, passing down, and making visible the residues of slavery's existence and cruelty. Their work not only provides a corrective to those who refuse to acknowledge that vulnerability, but empowers black women to create their own subjectivities. In The Repeating Body, Brown returns black women to the center of discourses of slavery, thereby providing the means with which to more fully understand slavery's history and its penetrating reach into modern American life.
Revolutionary Medicine is a richly textured examination of the ways that Cuba's public health care system has changed during the past two decades and of the meaning of those changes for ordinary Cubans. Until the Soviet bloc collapsed in 1989, socialist Cuba encouraged citizens to view access to health care as a human right and the state's responsibility to provide it as a moral imperative. Since the loss of Soviet subsidies and the tightening of the U.S. economic embargo, Cuba's government has found it hard to provide the high-quality universal medical care that was so central to the revolutionary socialist project. In Revolutionary Medicine, P. Sean Brotherton deftly integrates theory and history with ethnographic research in Havana, including interviews with family physicians, public health officials, research scientists, and citizens seeking medical care. He describes how the deterioration of health and social welfare programs has led Cubans to seek health care through informal arrangements, as well as state-sponsored programs. Their creative, resourceful pursuit of health and well-being provides insight into how they navigate, adapt to, and pragmatically cope with the rapid social, economic, and political changes in post-Soviet Cuba.
With audacious dexterity, David Howes weaves together topics ranging from love and beauty magic in Papua New Guinea to nasal repression in Freudian psychology and from the erasure and recovery of the senses in contemporary ethnography to the specter of the body in Marx. Through this eclectic and penetrating exploration of the relationship between sensory experience and cultural expression, Sensual Relations contests the conventional exclusion of sensuality from intellectual inquiry and reclaims sensation as a fundamental domain of social theory.
David Howes is Professor of Anthropology, Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec.
Marli F. Wiener skillfully integrates the history of medicine with social and intellectual history in this study of how race and sex complicated medical treatment in the antebellum South. Sex, Sickness, and Slavery argues that Southern physicians' scientific training and practice uniquely entitled them to formulate medical justification for the imbalanced racial hierarchies of the period. Challenged with both helping to preserve the slave system (by acknowledging and preserving clear distinctions of race and sex) and enhancing their own authority (with correct medical diagnoses and effective treatment), doctors sought to understand bodies that did not necessarily fit into neat dichotomies or agree with suggested treatments.
Focusing on Southern states from Virginia to Alabama, Weiner examines medical and lay perspectives on the body through a range of sources, including medical journals, notes, diaries, daybooks, and letters. These personal and revealing sources show how physicians, medical students, and patients--both free whites and slaves--felt about vulnerability to disease and mental illnesses, how bodily differences between races and sexes were explained, and how emotions, common sense, working conditions, and climate were understood to have an effect on the body.
Physicians' authority did not go uncontested, however. Weiner also describes the ways in which laypeople, both black and white, resisted medical authority, clearly refusing to cede explanatory power to doctors without measuring medical views against their own bodily experiences or personal beliefs. Expertly drawing the dynamic tensions during this period in which Southern culture and the demands of slavery often trumped science, Weiner explores how doctors struggled with contradictions as medicine became a key arena for debate over the meanings of male and female, sick and well, black and white, North and South.
Medieval European culture encompassed Judaic, Christian, Muslim, and pagan societies, forming a complex matrix of religious belief, identity, and imagination. Through incisive readings of a broad range of medieval texts and informed by poststructuralist, queer, and feminist theories, The Spectral Jew traces the Jewish presence in Western Europe to show how the body, gender, and sexuality were at the root of the construction of medieval religious anxieties, inconsistencies, and instabilities.
Looking closely at how medieval Jewish and Christian identities are distinguished from each other, yet intimately intertwined, Kruger demonstrates how Jews were often corporealized in ways that posited them as inferior to Christians—archaic and incapable of change—even as the two mutually shaped each other. But such attempts to differentiate Jews and Christians were inevitably haunted by the knowledge that Christianity had emerged out of Judaism and was, in its own self-understanding, a community of converts.
Examining the points of contact between Christian and Jewish communities, Kruger discloses the profound paradox of the Jew as different in all ways, yet capable of converting to fully Christian status. He draws from central medieval authors and texts such as Peter Damian, Guibert of Nogent, the Barcelona Disputation, and the Hebrew chronicles of the First Crusade, as well as lesser known writings such as the disputations of Ceuta, Majorca, and Tortosa and the immensely popular Dialogues of Peter Alfonsi.
By putting the conversion narrative at the center of this analysis, Kruger exposes it as a disruption of categories rather than a smooth passage and reveals the prominent role Judaism played in the medieval Christian imagination.
Steven F. Kruger is professor of English and medieval studies at Queens College and the Graduate Center, CUNY. He is author of several books and editor with Glenn Burger of Queering the Middle Ages (Minnesota, 2001).
Our bodies are not fixed. They expand and contract with variations in diet, exercise, and illness. They also alter as we age, changing over time to be markedly different at the end of our lives from what they were at birth. In a similar way, our attitudes to bodies, and especially posture—how people hold themselves, how they move—are fluid. We interpret stance and gait as healthy or ill, able or disabled, elegant or slovenly, beautiful or ugly. In Stand Up Straight!, Sander L. Gilman probes these shifting concepts of posture to explore how society’s response to our bodies’ appearance can illuminate how society views who we are and what we are able to do.
The first comprehensive history of the upright body at rest and in movement, Stand Up Straight! stretches from Neanderthals to modern humans to show how we have used our understanding of posture to define who we are—and who we are not. Gilman traverses theology and anthropology, medicine and politics, discarded ideas of race and the most modern ideas of disability, theories of dance and concepts of national identity in his quest to set straight the meaning of bearing. Fully illustrated with an array of striking images from medical, historical, and cultural sources, Stand Up Straight! interweaves our developing knowledge of anatomy and a cultural history of posture to provide a highly original account of our changing attitudes toward stiff spines, square shoulders, and flat tummies through time.
CHAPLIN Harvard University Press, 2001 Library of Congress E46.C48 2001 | Dewey Decimal 973.17
With this sweeping reinterpretation of early cultural encounters between the English and American natives, Joyce E. Chaplin thoroughly alters our historical view of the origins of English presumptions of racial superiority, and of the role science and technology played in shaping these notions. By placing the history of science and medicine at the very center of the story of early English colonization, Chaplin shows how contemporary European theories of nature and science dramatically influenced relations between the English and Indians within the formation of the British Empire.
In Chaplin's account of the earliest contacts, we find the English--impressed by the Indians' way with food, tools, and iron--inclined to consider Indians as partners in the conquest and control of nature. Only when it came to the Indians' bodies, so susceptible to disease, were the English confident in their superiority. Chaplin traces the way in which this tentative notion of racial inferiority hardened and expanded to include the Indians' once admirable mental and technical capacities. Here we see how the English, beginning from a sense of bodily superiority, moved little by little toward the idea of their mastery over nature, America, and the Indians--and how this progression is inextricably linked to the impetus and rationale for empire.
Taking Care of Time
Cortney Davis Michigan State University Press, 2018 Library of Congress PS3554.A93342A6 2018 | Dewey Decimal 811.54
For poet and nurse practitioner Cortney Davis, the truth revealed through poetry is similar to what she has experienced in the heightened and urgent dramas that occur in health care—those suspended moments in which a dying heart might be revived or unbearable suffering relieved. We are vulnerable, her poems say, and we are dependent on one another—on the ways in which we care or fail to care for one another, in how we love or fail to love. In poems that are sensual, emotionally searing, and yet unfailingly tender, Davis shines a caregiver’s light on the most intimate details of the human body and the spirit within—how the flesh might betray, how it endures, and how ultimately it triumphs.
The history of tattooing is shrouded in controversy. Citing the Polynesian derivation of the word “tattoo,” many scholars and tattoo enthusiasts have believed that the modern practice of tattooing originated in the Pacific, and specifically in the contacts between Captain Cook’s seamen and the Tahitians. Tattoo demonstrates that while the history of tattooing is far more complex than this, Pacific body arts have provided powerful stimuli to the West intermittently from the eighteenth century to the present day. The essays collected here document the extraordinary, intertwined histories of processes of cultural exchange and Pacific tattoo practices. Art historians, anthropologists, and scholars of Oceania provide a transcultural history of tattooing in and beyond the Pacific.
The contributors examine the contexts in which Pacific tattoos were “discovered” by Europeans, track the history of the tattooing of Europeans visiting the region, and look at how Pacific tattooing was absorbed, revalued, and often suppressed by agents of European colonization. They consider how European art has incorporated tattooing, and they explore contemporary manifestations of Pacific tattoo art, paying particular attention to the different trajectories of Samoan, Tahitian, and Maori tattooing and to the meaning of present-day appropriations of tribal tattoos. New research has uncovered a fascinating visual archive of centuries-old tattoo images, and this richly illustrated volume includes a number of those—many published here for the first time—alongside images of contemporary tattooing in Polynesia and Europe. Tattoo offers a tantalizing glimpse into the plethora of stories and cross-cultural encounters that lie between the blood on a sailor’s backside in the eighteenth century and the hammering of a Samoan tattoo tool in the twenty-first.
Contributors. Peter Brunt, Anna Cole, Anne D’Alleva, Bronwen Douglas, Elena Govor, Makiko Kuwahara, Sean Mallon, Linda Waimarie Nikora, Mohi Rua, Cyril Siorat, Ngahuia Te Awekotuku, Nicholas Thomas, Joanna White
This book takes the process of "reading the body" into the fields at the forefront of culture—the vast spaces mapped by science and technology—to show that the body in high-tech is as gendered as ever. From female body building to virtual reality, from cosmetic surgery to cyberpunk, from reproductive medicine to public health policies to TV science programs, Anne Balsamo articulates the key issues concerning the status of the body for feminist cultural studies in a postmodern world. Technologies of the Gendered Body combines close readings of popular texts—such as Margaret Atwood’s novel The Handmaid’s Tale, the movie Pumping Iron II: The Women, cyberpunk magazines, and mass media—with analyses of medical literature, public policy documents, and specific technological practices. Balsamo describes the ways in which certain biotechnologies are ideologically shaped by gender considerations and other beliefs about race, physical abilities, and economic and legal status. She presents a view of the conceptual system that structures individuals’ access to and participation in these technologies, as well as an overview of individuals’ rights and responsibilities in this sometimes baffling area. Examining the ways in which the body is gendered in its interactions with new technologies of corporeality, Technologies of the Gendered Body counters the claim that in our scientific culture the material body has become obsolete. With ample evidence that the techno-body is always gendered and marked by race, this book sets the stage for a renewed feminist engagement with contemporary technological narratives.
The recipient of the annual Award for Outstanding Book in Theatre Practice and Pedagogy from the Association for Theatre in Higher Education, This Is My Body realigns representational practices in the early Middle Ages with current debates on the nature of representation. Michal Kobialkai's study views the medieval concept of representation as having been in flux and crossed by different modes of seeing, until it was stabilized by the constitutions of the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215. Kobialka argues that the concept of representation in the early Middle Ages had little to do with the tradition that considers representation in terms of Aristotle or Plato; rather, it was enshrined in the interpretation of Hoc est corpus meum [This is my body] -- the words spoken by Christ to the apostles at the Last Supper -- and in establishing the visibility of the body of Christ that had disappeared from view.
Michal Kobialka is Professor in the Department of Theatre Arts and Dance at the University of Minnesota.
The timeless human desire to be more beautiful, intelligent, healthy, athletic, or young has given rise in our time to technologies of human enhancement. Athletes use drugs to increase their strength or stamina; cosmetic surgery is widely used to improve physical appearance; millions of men take drugs like Viagra to enhance sexual performance. And today researchers are exploring technologies such as cell regeneration and implantable devices that interact directly with the brain. Some condemn these developments as a new kind of cheating—not just in sports but in life itself—promising rewards without effort and depriving us most of all of what it means to be authentic human beings. “Transhumanists,” on the other hand, reject what they see as a rationalizing of human limits, as if being human means being content forever with underachieving bodies and brains. To be human, they insist, is to be restless with possibilities, always eager to transcend biological limits.
As the debate grows in urgency, how should theology respond? Christian theologians recognize truth on both sides of the argument, pointing out how the yearnings of the transhumanists—if not their technological methods—find deep affinities in Christian belief. In this volume, Ronald Cole-Turner has joined seasoned scholars and younger, emerging voices together to bring fresh insight into the technologies that are already reshaping the future of Christian life and hope.
While “freaks” have captivated our imagination since well before the nineteenth century, the Victorians flocked to shows featuring dancing dwarves, bearded ladies, “missing links,” and six-legged sheep. Indeed, this period has been described by Rosemarie Garland-Thomson as the epoch of “consolidation” for freakery: an era of social change, enormously popular freak shows, and taxonomic frenzy. Victorian Freaks: The Social Context of Freakery in Britain, edited by Marlene Tromp, turns to that rich nexus, examining the struggle over definitions of “freakery” and the unstable and sometimes conflicting ways in which freakery was understood and deployed. As the first study centralizing British culture, this collection discusses figures as varied as Joseph Merrick, “The Elephant Man”; Daniel Lambert, “King of the Fat Men”; Julia Pastrana, “The Bear Woman”; and Laloo “The Marvellous Indian Boy” and his embedded, parasitic twin. The Victorian Freaks contributors examine Victorian culture through the lens of freakery, reading the production of the freak against the landscape of capitalist consumption, the medical community, and the politics of empire, sexuality, and art. Collectively, these essays ask how freakery engaged with notions of normalcy and with its Victorian cultural context.
This collection breaks new ground in the area of gender studies both because it creates a name for gender fantasy--virtual gender--that introduces a new understanding of the concept, and in expanding the idea of virtuality to include people and events in history. The essays in Virtual Gender help identify and name the persistent cultural desire for an imaginative space in which to "put on" alternative gender identities, while examining as well the equally persistent and consequent critique of that desire.
The sweep of the volume's coverage is impressive, ranging across historical periods and academic disciplines, as contributors consider the place of the body in gender fantasy and the consequences of gender fantasy for real people and real bodies. The essays investigate figures and topics including Amelia Earhart, soap-opera chat groups, Elizabeth I, mesmerism, lesbianism in the early modern period, cybergames, women in the federalist period, the transgendered body, and performance art. Also examined are the status of embodiment, the origins of gender, gender politics, the pains of subjectivity, the uses of utopian fantasy, technological advances and information technology, the experience of gendered communities, and the role of gender in global politics.
Contributors include Harriette Andreadis, Seyla Benhabib, Charlotte Canning, Bernice Hausman, Janel Mueller, Mary Ann O'Farrell, Kay Schaffer, Sidonie Smith, Carroll Smith-Rosenberg, Helen F. Thompson, Lynne Vallone, and Robyn Warhol. The book will appeal to an interdisciplinary audience of scholars, critics, and students with interests in gender, identity, and cyberculture.
Mary Ann O'Farrell is Associate Professor of English, Texas A & M University. Lynne Vallone is Associate Professor of English, Texas A & M University.
In The World Below, Jacques Galinier surveys both traditional Otomí cosmology and colonial and contemporary Catholic rituals to illustrate the complexity of continuity and change in Mesoamerican religious ideology and practice. Galinier explores the problems of historical and family memory, models of space and time, the role of the human habitation in cosmology, shamanism and healing, and much more. He elucidates the way these realities are represented in a series of arresting oppositions - both Otomí oppositions and the duality of indigenous and Catholic ritual life - between the upper and lower human body.
Drawing upon both Freud and theories of the carnivalesque, Galinier argues that the "world below" (the lower half of the body) provides the foundation for an indigenous metapsychology that is at once very close to and very far away from the Freudian conceptual apparatus.
Ronald J. Pelias is concerned with writing about performance, from the everyday performative routines to the texts on stage. He seeks to write performatively, to offer poetic or aesthetic renderings of performance events in order to capture some sense of their nature. In his quest for the spirit of theatrical performances, Pelias asks more of the written word than the word can deliver. Yet the attempt is both desirable—and necessary. To discuss performance without some accounting for its essence as art, he asserts, is at best misleading, at worst, fraud.
Pelias divides his efforts to present performance events into three general categories: "Performing Every Day," "On Writing and Performing," and "Being a Witness." "Performing Every Day" focuses on performances ranging from the daily business of enacting roles to the telling of tales that make life meaningful. It incorporates essays about the ongoing process of presenting oneself in everyday life; the gender script that insists that men enact manly performances; the classroom performances of teachers and students; stories of gender, class, and race that mark identity; and a performance installation entitled "A Day’s Talk."
"On Writing and Performing" examines the written script and performance practices. It includes a description of a struggle between a writer and a performer as they protect their own interests; an intimate look at an apprehensive performer; a short play entitled "The Audition"; and a chronicle of performance process from the perspective of an actor.
"Being a Witness" examines performance from the perspective of the audience and the director: being an audience member; viewing theatre in the context of New York City; directing and being directed by actors’ bodies; and watching The DEF Comedy Jam.
Feet, bras, autopsies, hair—Peggy Shinner takes an honest, unflinching look at all of them in You Feel So Mortal, a collection of searing and witty essays about the body: her own body, female and Jewish; those of her parents, the bodies she came from; and the collective body, with all its historical, social, and political implications. What, she asks, does this whole mess of bones, muscles, organs, and soul mean? Searching for answers, she turns her keen narrative sense to body image, gender, ethnic history, and familial legacy, exploring what it means to live in our bodies and to leave them behind.
Over the course of twelve essays, Shinner holds a mirror up to the complex desires, fears, confusions, and mysteries that shape our bodily perceptions. Driven by the collision between herself and the larger world, she examines her feet through the often-skewed lens of history to understand what makes them, in the eyes of some, decidedly Jewish; considers bras, breasts, and the storied skills of the bra fitter; asks, from the perspective of a confused and grieving daughter, what it means to cut the body open; and takes a reeling time-trip through myth, culture, and history to look at women’s hair in ancient Rome, Laos, France, Syria, Cuba, India, and her own past. Some pieces investigate the body under emotional or physical duress, while others use the body to consider personal heritage and legacy. Throughout, Shinner writes with elegance and assurance, weaving her wide-ranging thoughts into a firm and fascinating fabric.
Turning the category of body books on, well, its ear, You Feel So Mortal offers a probing view of our preoccupation with the body that is both idiosyncratic and universal, leaving us with the deep satisfaction of our shared humanity.