Sex, Art, and American Culture: Essays

Overview

A collection of twenty of Paglia's out-spoken essays on contemporary issues in America's ongoing cultural debate such as Anita Hill, Robert Mapplethorpe, the beauty myth, and the decline of education in America.

A provocative and intelligent new book by the author of the national bestseller Sexual Personae. Camille Paglia has been called everything from "the intellectual pin-up of the '90s" to an academic Rottweiler to "the bravest and most original critic of our ...

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Sex, Art, and American Culture: Essays

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Overview

A collection of twenty of Paglia's out-spoken essays on contemporary issues in America's ongoing cultural debate such as Anita Hill, Robert Mapplethorpe, the beauty myth, and the decline of education in America.

A provocative and intelligent new book by the author of the national bestseller Sexual Personae. Camille Paglia has been called everything from "the intellectual pin-up of the '90s" to an academic Rottweiler to "the bravest and most original critic of our day." And she lives up to her various reputations in this incendiary new book of essays on the hottest issues in America's ongoing cultural debate.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Provocative cultural critic Paglia (Sexual Personas) here offers 21 previously published essays and interviews that celebrate pop culture while trashing feminism and academic theory. Her paeans to Madonna, tributes to Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando, and discussions of rock music and bodybuilding include attacks on the prudery of old guard establishment feminists, while her reviews of scholarly works on cross-dressing and gay history trumpet Paglia's contention that today's intellectuals refuse to acknowledge the dark, immutable powers of sexual drive. Reverence for these powers led Paglia to take her controversial stand, fully documented here, against sympathy for victims of date rape. Paglia lacks the subtlety and decorum of the very scholars--from Freud and Jung to Leslie Fiedier--whom she claims as her forerunners; she instead resembles the rock stars whom she so venerates, stripped of their capacity for self-mockery. Yet for all their faults, her essays engage with an ambitious range of art and ideas, her invocation of primal sexuality adding a missing element to critical debates. While she should be taken with a truckful of road salt, Paglia should not be ignored. Author tour. (Sept.)
Library Journal
Paglia (humanities, Univ. of the Arts), the controversial author of Sexual Personae (Yale Univ. Pr., 1990), here offers 12 recent essays on popular culture, sexuality, feminism, and educational reform. All but three of these impassioned diatribes were previously published, including her brazen attack on humanities education (``Junk Bonds and Corporate Raiders''), the Newsweek article in which she dismisses the phenomenon of date rape, and her New York Times essay on Madonna as a feminist. Paglia's vehemence and fearless expression of unpopular opinions are refreshing yet often maddening, as when she lapses into unsupported generalizations (battered women stay with their husbands ``because the sex is very hot''), absurd enthusiasms (she ``worships'' television), or self-aggrandizing egotism (``before feminism was, Paglia was!''). Furthermore, the new material is repetitive (``The MIT Lecture'') or disappointing (``East and West,'' a choppy set of Paglia's course notes). Paglia is never boring, however, and cannot fail to challenge and ignite readers. Recommended for informed readers.-- Ellen Finnie Duranceau, MIT Lib.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679741015
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/28/1992
  • Series: Vintage Original Series
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 337
  • Sales rank: 645,135
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction
Madonna I: Animality and Artifice 3
Madonna II: Venus of the Radio Waves 6
Elizabeth Taylor: Hollywood's Pagan Queen 14
Rock as Art 19
Homosexuality at the Fin De Siecle 22
The Joy of Presbyterian Sex 26
The Beautiful Decadence of Robert Mapplethorpe: A Response to Rochelle Gurstein 38
The Strange Case of Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill 46
Rape and Modern Sex War 49
The Rape Debate, Continued 55
Cleopatra Sold Down the River: Lucy Hughes-Hallett's Cleopatra: Histories, Dreams and Distortions 75
Alice in Muscle Land: Samuel Wilson Fussell's Muscle: Confessions of an Unlikely Bodybuilder 79
The Critic at Graceful Ease: Wendy Lesser's His Other Half: Men Looking at Women Through Art 83
The Big Udder: Suzanne Gordon's Prisoners of Men's Dreams 86
Brando Flashing: Richard Schickel's Brando: A Life in Our Times 91
What a Drag: Marjorie Garber's Vested Interests: Cross-Dressing and Cultural Anxiety 96
Sexual Personae: The Cancelled Preface 101
Milton Kessler: A Memoir 125
East and West: An Experiment in Multiculturalism 136
Junk Bonds and Corporate Raiders: Academe in the Hour of the Wolf 170
The M.I.T. Lecture: Crisis in the American Universities 249
Appendices 299
A Media History 301
Cartoon Personae 309
Profiles, Interviews, Debates, Exotica 315
Index 326
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