Staring : How We Look

4.1 (69 ratings by Goodreads)

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From a very young age we are told not to stare, and one hallmark of maturation is the ability to resist (or at least hide) our staring behavior. And yet, rarely do we master the impulse. Despite the complicated role it plays in our development, and its unique brand of visual enticement, staring has not been considered before as a suitable object for socio-cultural analysis. What is it about certain kinds of people that makes it impossible to take our eyes off them? Why are some visual stimuli irresistible? Why does staring produce so much anxiety? Drawing on examples from art, media, fashion, history and memoir, Garland-Thomson defines staring, explores the factors that motivate it, and considers the targets and the effects of the stare. A bodily inventory then enumerates how stares actually operate in daily life. A section on "Bodies" focuses on the question of size and scale as key indicators of normalcy, while certain body parts show themselves to be disproportionately arresting, as passages on "Faces" "Hands" and "Breasts" reveal.
A concluding chapter on "Beholding" considers the frisson at play between starer and staree and offers an alternative way of understanding visual communication between people. Featuring over forty illustrations, Staring captures the stimulating combination of symbolic, material and emotional factors that make staring so irresistible while endeavoring to shift the usual response to staring, shame, into an engaged self-consideration. Elegant and provocative, this book advances new ways of thinking about visuality and the body that will appeal to readers who are interested in the overlap between the humanities and human behaviors.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 256 pages
  • 152.4 x 231.14 x 20.32mm | 362.87g
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 43 black and white half tone illustrations
  • 0195326806
  • 9780195326802
  • 551,114

Table of contents

PART 1. ABOUT STARING ; Chapter 1. Why Do We Stare? ; PART 2. WHAT IS STARING? ; Chapter 2: Staring: A Physical Response ; Chapter 3: Staring: A Cultural History ; Chapter 4: Staring: A Social Relationship ; Chapter 5: Staring: Knowledge Gathering ; PART 3. DON'T STARE ; Chapter 6: Staring: Getting into Trouble ; Chapter 7: Staring: Bad Manners ; Chapter 8: Staring: Rules and Rebellion ; PART 4. STARERS AND STAREES ; Chapter 9: Looking Away, Staring Back ; PART 5. SCENES OF STARING ; Chapter 10: Staring at Faces ; Chapter 11: Staring at Hands ; Chapter 12: Staring at Bodies ; Chapter 13: Staring at Breasts ; Chapter 14: Beholding
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Review quote

A trailhead that offers branches back into the many fields of study from which this book draws. It also suggests connections with new ones...An important, challenging, and often brilliant book. * American Literary History *
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About Rosemarie Garland-Thomson

Rosemarie Garland-Thomson is Professor of Women's Studies at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. Her fields of study are feminist theory, American literature, and disability studies. Her scholarly and professional activities are devoted to developing the field of disability studies in the humanities and in women's studies.
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Rating details

69 ratings
4.1 out of 5 stars
5 39% (27)
4 39% (27)
3 17% (12)
2 1% (1)
1 3% (2)
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