Reading the Social Body

Reading the Social Body

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285 pp, 16 photos

“…offers a remarkably varied and extremely provocative set of essays…By combining materials from both western anthropological and literary critical methods, these essays convincingly demonstrate the myriad ways in which the body is not a natural fact but a social construction. This book is a valuable contribution to the burgeoning field of 'bodyology.'”—Anne K. Mellor

“…a very useful compendium of the diverse ways that 'the body,' an influential construct in recent social theory, has been deployed in specific projects of anthropological, literary, and historical research…these studies never fail to both entertain and illuminate.”—George E. Marcus

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.

Table of contents: 

I. Introduction: Reading the Social Body by Catherine B. Burroughs & Jeffrey David Ehrenreich
2. The Social Skin by Terence S. Turner
3. The Constructed Body by Colette Guillaumin, translated by Diane Griffin Crowder
4. Lesbians and the (Re/De)Construction of the Female Body by Diane Griffin Crowder
5. On the Semiotics of Torture: The Case of the Disappeared in Chile by Renato Martínez
6. “Who Kills Whores?” “I Do,” Says Jack: Race, Gender, and Body in Victorian London by Sander L. Gilman
7. Metaphorical Representation of the Female Body in Edgar Degas’s A Cotton Office in New Orleans
by Dolores Mitchell
8. Drinking Themselves to Life, or the Body in the Bottle: Filmic Negotiations in the Construction of the Alcoholic Female Body by Melinda Kramer
9. Unamuno: The Body and the Myth by Lynette Seator
10. Spirited Bodies in Earl Lovelace’s The Wine of Astonishment by Renu Juneja
11. Locke and Blake as Physicians: Delivering the Eighteenth-Century Body by Wayne Glausser
12. Inter-Mediate Stages: Reconsidering the Body in “Closet Drama” by Michael Evenden
Notes on Contributors