Heartthrobs : A History of Women and Desire

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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 a great deal about the history of women. In Heartthrobs, Carol Dyhouse draws upon literature, cinema, and popular romance to show how the changing cultural and economic position of women has shaped their dreams about men.

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 a double-bind: you may have needed a husband in order to survive, but you had to avoid looking like a gold-digger. Show attraction too openly and you might be judged 'fast' and undesirable. Education and wage-earning brought independence and a widening of horizons for women.

These new economic beings showed a sustained appetite for novel-reading, cinema-going, and the dancehall. They sighed over Rudolph Valentino's screen performances as tango-dancer or Arab tribesman and desert lover. Women may have been ridiculed for these obsessions, but, as consumers, they had new clout. This book reveals changing patterns of desire, and looks at men through the eyes of women.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 288 pages
  • 135 x 215 x 22mm | 288g
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 26 Black & white illustrations
  • 0198828128
  • 9780198828129
  • 86,867

Table of contents

1: Her Heart's Desire: What Did Women Want?
2: Unbridled Passions
3: Packaging the Male
4: Once upon a dream: Prince Charming, Cavaliers, Regency Beaux
5: Dark Princes, Foreign Powers: Desert Lovers, Outsiders, and Vampires
6: Soulmates: Intimacy, Integrity, Trust
7: Power: Protection, Transformative Magic, and Patriarchy
8: Sighing for the Moon?
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Review quote

Carol Dyhouse asks tough, scholarly questions about what-or rather who-makes female hearts beat faster. * Kathryn Hughes, Professor of Life Writing, University of East Anglia * ... the book ranges fluently across literature, film, music, and television. Heartthrobs is erudite, accessible, funny, and invaluable-a genuinely insightful, and enjoyable, work of cultural history. * Rachel Moseley, Professor of Film and Television Studies, University of Warwick * Carol Dyhouse writes about women's desire with her customary brio, delicious humour, and eclectic cultural references. * Helen Taylor, Emeritus Professor, University of Exeter * 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 * Fascinating, entertaining book. * Rachael Popow, On: Yorkshire Magazine * A very wonderful, interesting, captivating book. * Anna Maria Polidori, Al Femminile * [A] lively and enjoyable survey of a strangely neglected subject. * Choice Magazine * It is at once scholarly, humorous and utterly gripping. * Juanita Coulson, The Lady * Dyhouse is insightful, jargon-free and witty. * The Times Higher Education Supplement * A grand tour of female-created fantasies about ... men can never be a dull ride - and Dyhouse presents the reader with some titillating examples. * The Times Literary Supplement * Dyhouse has a fresh and mischievous style. * Julie Burchill, The New Statesman * A cultural history of desire that pulls off the rare trick of being both capacious and concise. * The Wall Street Journal * [A] terrific book. * The Daily Mail * An even-tempered book that raises lots of fascinating questions. * Roger Lewis, The 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 * ... 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 *
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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 (Zed Books, 2011) and Girl Trouble: Panic and Progress in the History of Young Women (Zed Books, 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.
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Rating details

121 ratings
3.37 out of 5 stars
5 9% (11)
4 32% (39)
3 47% (57)
2 10% (12)
1 2% (2)
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