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The female body has occupied a central place in the Western imagination, its images pervading poetry and story, mythology and religious doctrine, the visual arts, and scientific treatises. It has inspired both attraction and fear, been perceived as beautiful and unclean, alluring and dangerous, a source of pleasure and nurturing but also a source of evil and destruction.
In The Female Body in Western Culture, twenty-three internationally noted scholars and critics, in specially commissioned essays, explore these representations and their consequences for contemporary art and culture. Ranging from Genesis to Gertrude Stein and Angela Carter, from ancient Greek ritual to the Victorian sleeping cure, from images of the Madonna to modern film and Surrealist art, the essays cover a wide spectrum of approaches and subject mailer. They all converge, however, around questions of power and powerlessness, voice and silence, subjecthood and objectification. And they point the way to the new possibilities and displacements of traditional male-female oppositions. Androgyny in a new key? This book demonstrates that a blurring of gender boundaries does not have to deny difference.
Part 1: Eros
1. (Re) Writing the Body: The Politics and Poetics of Female Eroticism