Dirt: The Filthy Reality of Everyday Life

Overview

Our relationship with dirt is complex and ambivalent. Dirt is waste, excrement, rubbish, bacteria—but what then is soil, where crops grow, and to which our bodies eventually return? Dirt may pose significant risks to our health, but it is also vital to our existence.

Lavishly illustrated, this exciting and often startling book is a provocative introduction to a vast and complex subject. Five writers and a graphic novelist pursue different themes from a range of perspectives in ...

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Overview

Our relationship with dirt is complex and ambivalent. Dirt is waste, excrement, rubbish, bacteria—but what then is soil, where crops grow, and to which our bodies eventually return? Dirt may pose significant risks to our health, but it is also vital to our existence.

Lavishly illustrated, this exciting and often startling book is a provocative introduction to a vast and complex subject. Five writers and a graphic novelist pursue different themes from a range of perspectives in order to examine dirt and its contradictions, including personal grooming, the politics of dirt in the home, city sanitation, and waste disposal.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Most societies spend a good amount of time and energy trying to eradicate, or at the very least hide, dirt. In a recent exhibition, the Wellcome Collection of London chose instead to highlight the multivalent nature of dirt. This delightful and informative companion book qua cultural study contains essays, art, photos, and more on civilization's complicated relationship with grime, dust, waste, and mud. Virginia Smith writes about conceptions of human excretions in "Dirt and the Body;" Rosie Cox discusses cleanliness in the domestic sphere in "Dirt and the Home;" Brian Ralph posits a compelling connection between dirt and creativity in the comic "Crud Club;" and several others—including an anthropologist and an epidemiologist—expound on dirt in the city, environment, and community. With discussions of everything from the al fresco grooming practices of the ancient Greeks; to artist Susan Collis's Waltzer, a wooden broom ornamented with precious and semi-precious stones; to "dirty sex;" to the current transformation of Staten Island's Fresh Kills landfill into a park; this eye-opening volume has got the dirt on dirt. Color photos. (May)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781846684791
  • Publisher: Profile Books Limited
  • Publication date: 4/17/2012
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Virginia Smith is a freelance historian and research fellow at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Rosie Cox is a senior lecturer at Birkbeck College, London

Elizabeth Pisani is an epidemiologist.

Rose George is a freelance writer.

Peter Brimblecombe is professor of atmospheric chemistry at the University of East Anglia, UK

Brian Ralph is an illustrator and lecturer at the Maryland Institute of Art.

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