Brief History of Nakedness

Brief History of Nakedness

by Philip Carr-Gomm
     
 

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?The naked human body evokes powerful and often contradictory feelings and ideas: it can thrill or revolt us; it can signal innocence or sexual availability; honesty or madness; oneness with nature or separation from society. Advertisers and the media are aware of the complex and ambivalent associations that most of us have towards the subject, and use images of

Overview

?The naked human body evokes powerful and often contradictory feelings and ideas: it can thrill or revolt us; it can signal innocence or sexual availability; honesty or madness; oneness with nature or separation from society. Advertisers and the media are aware of the complex and ambivalent associations that most of us have towards the subject, and use images of bare skin or simply the word 'naked' to compete for our attention, while mystics have used nudity to get closer to God, and political protesters have discovered that simply baring all represents one of the most effective ways to gain publicity for their cause.
A Brief History of Nakedness traces humanity's preoccupation with nudity in three distinct areas of human endeavour: religion, politics and popular culture. Rather than studying the history of the nude in art or photography, or detailing the ways in which the naked body has been denigrated or denied, this book explores new territory: revealing the ways in which religious teachers, politicians, protesters and cultural icons have used nudity to enlighten or empower themselves, or simply to entertain us.
From the naked sages of India and St. Francis of Assisi to modern-day witches and Christian nudists, and from Lady Godiva to Lady Gaga, via The Full Monty and Calendar Girls, A Brief History of Nakedness surveys the touching, sometimes tragic and often bizarre story of our relationship to our naked bodies.

Editorial Reviews

Bookslut
"Philip Carr-Gomm’s new book A Brief History of Nakedness, which, even if it doesn’t make you want to get naked for peace, will make you want to get naked."
Times

"As Philip Carr-Gomm reveals in his academic romp through two millenniums of public exhibitionism from the ancient Greeks to animal-rights activists, you can be naked anywhere. You are only nude if someone is watching. Nakedness on its own is straightforward — it’s the context and the audience of nudity that make it interesting."—Times (UK)

Bookseller (UK)

"This fascinating and richly-illustrated book traces the history of humanity's preoccupation with nakedness, revealing the ways in which bare bodies have been used to enlighten, empower or simply entertain us."--Bookseller

Evening Standard (UK)
"This is a grown-up book about the excitement—and humor—of surrendering the mystery of clothes."—Evening Standard
Telegraph (UK)
"Once you’ve finished this thought-provoking book, go back to the mirror. Slip off the bathrobe and have another look. Unless you were reading it in the waiting room of a plastic surgeon, nothing much will have changed. Yet something seems different. If it weren’t anatomically impossible, you’d swear your whole body was smiling."—Telegraph
Reviews in History
'A polymath survey of attitudes to the naked body across thousands of years…takes us on a colourful caravan across the centuries of Asiatic and European history"

BBC History Magazine
"Ambitious and often entertaining."
Economist
"Philip Carr-Gomm’s lushly illustrated book takes a long and enthusiastic look at the politics and culture of nakedness. Nudism attracts eccentrics, and their stories, he feels, deserve to be told . . . thought-provoking."–Economist

Village Voice
A kooky survey of the clothing-free.

— Alexis Soloski

Chronicle Review
Philip Carr-Gomm has an idea: Stop reading and start taking off your clothes. He makes that suggestion at the outset of his new book, A Brief History of Nakedness. He aims to underscore the extent to which our stance toward nudity is riddled with contradiction. He has a point.

— Evan R. Goldstein

Times (UK)
"As Philip Carr-Gomm reveals in his academic romp through two millenniums of public exhibitionism from the ancient Greeks to animal-rights activists, you can be naked anywhere. You are only nude if someone is watching. Nakedness on its own is straightforward — it’s the context and the audience of nudity that make it interesting."
Bookseller
"This fascinating and richly-illustrated book traces the history of humanity's preoccupation with nakedness, revealing the ways in which bare bodies have been used to enlighten, empower or simply entertain us."—Bookseller

Toronto Star
It’s safe to say that Philip Carr-Gomm is the rare man of letters who would admit to reading Playboy for the centrefolds, rather than the articles. His new book, A Brief History of Nakedness, is exactly what it sounds like, complete with numerous photographs such as the one seen above. But rather than providing flimsy justifications for his ogling, the book instead offers a sustained mediation on the spiritual, cultural and political implications of being naked in public.

— Ryan Bigge

Annie Sprinkle
"I absolutely loved A Brief History of Nakedness. Besides being a fascinating read, it contains the most fun, intriguing, and diverse collection of nude photographs anywhere. A must for anyone interested in art, political activism, and cultural studies. This 'brief' history must have taken forever to research. It makes me want to rip off my clothes for a good cause immediately." —Annie Sprinkle PhD, artist / sexologist

Kathleen Rooney
"In this lucid and wide-ranging book Philip Carr-Gomm . . . strips bare the paradoxes of humanity's attitude toward its own naked figures. Using a snappy blend of history and imagery, he invites readers to join him in making thrilling, confusing, funny, and beautiful realizations about that simultaneously mysterious and obvious state of unclothedness. From the rituals of witchcraft to the human art installations of Spencer Tunick to the non-nakedness of the Naked Chef, Carr-Gomm offers the revelation that far from being merely a basic physical state, human nakedness - sacred, obscene - holds the key to understanding politics, culture, and our very nature as human beings."

Graham Harvey
"A Brief History of Nakedness admirably uncovers religious, political and popular performances of and reactions to nudity in a remarkable array of cultures. Everything from ancient religious devotional practices to recent streaking controversies is discussed in an expert and delightful manner."

Ronald Hutton
"Not only the best book on its subject, but a marvellous read: racy, compassionate, candid and perceptive."

Chronicle Review - Evan R. Goldstein
"Philip Carr-Gomm has an idea: Stop reading and start taking off your clothes. He makes that suggestion at the outset of his new book, A Brief History of Nakedness. He aims to underscore the extent to which our stance toward nudity is riddled with contradiction. He has a point."
Village Voice - Alexis Soloski
"A kooky survey of the clothing-free."
Toronto Star - Ryan Bigge
"It’s safe to say that Philip Carr-Gomm is the rare man of letters who would admit to reading Playboy for the centrefolds, rather than the articles. His new book, A Brief History of Nakedness, is exactly what it sounds like, complete with numerous photographs such as the one seen above. But rather than providing flimsy justifications for his ogling, the book instead offers a sustained mediation on the spiritual, cultural and political implications of being naked in public."
MS) - Dispatch (Columbus
"A Brief History of Nakedness by Philip Carr-Gomm is full of surprising reasons people get naked, and funny ones, and practical ones, and sensual ones, and many more. What might have seemed a topic that was too simple to repay extended thought turns out to have many subtle (and not-so-subtle) facets. . . . This book is as fun as history gets."

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781861897299
Publisher:
Reaktion Books, Limited
Publication date:
05/26/2012
Series:
non-series
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
842 KB

Meet the Author

Philip Carr-Gomm is a writer, psychologist, psychotherapist, and the author of many books, including The Druidcraft Tarot and The Druid Planet Oracle.

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