The Desirable Body

The Desirable Body : Cultural Fetishism and the Erotics of Consumption

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"Now available for the first time in paperback, Jon Stratton's "The Desirable Body" lays a solid foundation for cultural and gender studies of the body by explicating the links, both historical and philosophical, between commodity culture and cultural fetishism. Proceeding from the theories of Marx, Freud, and Lacan, Stratton delineates the structures of consumerism and desire that, since around 1850, have brought about the fetishization and spectacularization of the female (and more recently the male) body. Stratton ties spectacularization to the primacy of the visual, as evinced in grand expositions, photography, the cinema, and clandestine surveillance techniques. He examines the lolita complex-male desire for unsexed yet seductive adolescent females-in conjunction with a discussion of a historical tendency to attribute incestuous behavior to working-class (but not middle-class) fathers. He explores an enduring fascination with man-made women (both mchaniques and mannequins) in literature (Villiers de l'Isle-Adam's "Tomorrow's Eve", E. T. A. Hoffmann's "The Sandman") and film ("The Stepford Wives", "Mannequin"). He also explores female patterns of consumption (from ""shop till you drop"" to anorexia) and, concomitant with a more public homosexuality, the fetishization of the male body (e.g., Arnold Schwarzenegger and ads for Calvin Klein underwear). By focusing on the way bourgeois capitalism works to structure those who live within it, Stratton helps explain why destructive patterns of consumption and desire persist in our purportedly enlightened age."show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 256 pages
  • 148.6 x 214.1 x 18.5mm | 358.34g
  • University of Illinois Press
  • Baltimore, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 025206951X
  • 9780252069512
  • 2,038,137

Review quote

"At last, Freud meets history, Marx meets the emotions--and they like what they see! Jon Stratton's imaginative mix of psychoanalysis and Marxism opens up the body to a new and exciting gaze." -- Toby Miller, author of The Well-Tempered Self: Citizenship, Culture, and the Postmodern Subject "A meaty, well written, well argued book about the historical changes in how embodiment has been experienced, talked about, theorized, and looked at since the middle of the nineteenth century. Stratton's work should be read widely by scholars in all fields concerned with issues of physicality and identity." --Jane Desmond, author of Staging Tourism: Bodies on Display from Waikiki to Sea World "Stratton creates an edge on the material. This edge should be a very exciting teaching tool. Not only does it offer a meaningful look at the nineteenth century ... but it offers if in the context of a twenty-first century reader." -- Robyn Sassen, PopMatters.comshow more

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