Heartthrobs : A History of Women and Desire

3.38 (52 ratings by Goodreads)
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What can a cultural history of the heartthrob teach us about women, desire, and social change? From dreams of Prince Charming or dashing military heroes, to the lure of dark strangers and vampire lovers; from rock stars and rebels to soulmates, dependable family types or simply good companions, female fantasies about men tell us as much about the history of women as about masculine icons. When girls were supposed to be shrinking violets, passionate females risked being seen as 'unbridled', or dangerously out of control. Change came slowly, and young women remained trapped in double-binds. You may have needed a husband in order to survive, but you had to avoid looking like a gold-digger. Sexual desire could be dangerous: a rash guide to making choices. Show attraction too openly and you might be judged 'fast' and undesirable. Education and wage-earning brought independence and a widening of cultural horizons. Young women in the early twentieth century showed a sustained appetite for novel-reading, cinema-going, and the dancehall. They sighed over Rudolph Valentino's screen performances, as tango-dancer, Arab tribesman, or desert lover. Contemporary critics were sniffy about 'shop-girl' taste in literature and in men, but as consumers, girls had new clout. In Heartthrobs, social and cultural historian Carol Dyhouse draws upon literature, cinema, and popular romance to show how the changing position of women has shaped their dreams about men, from Lord Byron in the early nineteenth century to boy-bands in the early twenty-first. Reflecting on the history of women as consumers and on the nature of fantasy, escapism, and 'fandom', she takes us deep into the world of gender and the imagination. A great deal of feminist literature has shown women as objects of the 'male gaze': this book looks at men through the eyes of women.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 288 pages
  • 144 x 222 x 28mm | 420g
  • Oxford University Press
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 26 Black & white illustrations
  • 0198765835
  • 9780198765837
  • 192,997

Review quote

A smart and sensitive look at its topic, this book provides thoughtful commentary on the driving forces behind women's imaginations and an intriguing if selective look at classic romantic figures. * Library Journal * Packed with numerous cultural references which will spark your own memories and opinions, this this an entertaining and thought-provoking read. * There's a book for that * There's a lot to consider here, and it's a book that I can't recommend highly enough * Desperate Reader * ... tremendously interesting and useful. Dyhouse combines impressive learning and research with a highly approachable style and a nice command of witty one-liners. * Shiny New Books * this is a well-researched, highly readable and intriguing book * Cambridge Magazine * very informative * Sonntagszeitung * a rather celebratory study of heterosexual female desire that embraces its reactionary, as well as its progressive, aspects. * Lesley McDowell, The Herald * Dyhouse is insightful, jargon-free and witty * Times Higher Education * terrific book * Daily Mail * an even-tempered book that raises lots of fascinating questions. * Roger Lewis, Mail on Sunday * A cultural history of idealised men constructed by the female gaze, it takes us on a tour of pop stars, film stars and literary romantic heroes * Caroline Criado-Perez, The Observer * Dyhouse has a fresh and mischievous style * Julie Burchill, New Statesman * ... this is a book that invites argument, and which romps along at an appropriately breathless pace * Claire Armitstead, The Guardian * Dyhouse has crushed a lot of rich, entertaining material into this book, a tight jostle of regency rakes and daring sheikhs, boy bands and Brontes * Victoria Segal, The Sunday Times * A grand tour of female-created fantasies about ... men can never be a dull ride - and Dyhouse presents the reader with some titillating examples. * Times Literary Supplement * A cultural history of desire that pulls off the rare trick of being both capacious and concise. * Wall Street Journal * Fascinating, entertaining book. * Rachael Popow, On: Yorkshire Magazine * A very wonderful, interesting, captivating book. * Anna Maria Polidori, Al Femminile *show more

About Carol Dyhouse

Carol Dyhouse is Professor (Emeritus) of History at the University of Sussex. She has written extensively about the social history of women, gender, and education. Her recent publications include Glamour: Women, History, Feminism (2011) and Girl Trouble: Panic and Progress in the History of Young Women (2013). She is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and in 2004 she was awarded an honorary D.Litt from the University of Winchester in recognition of her work on history and education.show more

Review Text

A very wonderful, interesting, captivating book. Anna Maria Polidori, Al Femminileshow more

Rating details

52 ratings
3.38 out of 5 stars
5 8% (4)
4 29% (15)
3 58% (30)
2 6% (3)
1 0% (0)
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