The Trouble with Nature: Sex in Science and Popular Culture / Edition 1

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Overview


Roger N. Lancaster provides the definitive rebuttal of evolutionary just-so stories about men, women, and the nature of desire in this spirited exposé of the heterosexual fables that pervade popular culture, from prime-time sitcoms to scientific theories about the so-called gay gene. Lancaster links the recent resurgence of biological explanations for gender norms, sexual desires, and human nature in general with the current pitched battles over sexual politics. Ideas about a "hardwired" and immutable human nature are circulating at a pivotal moment in human history, he argues, one in which dramatic changes in gender roles and an unprecedented normalization of lesbian and gay relationships are challenging received notions and commonly held convictions on every front.

The Trouble with Nature takes on major media sources—the New York Times, Newsweek—and widely ballyhooed scientific studies and ideas to show how journalists, scientists, and others invoke the rhetoric of science to support political positions in the absence of any real evidence. Lancaster also provides a novel and dramatic analysis of the social, historical, and political backdrop for changing discourses on "nature," including an incisive critique of the failures of queer theory to understand the social conflicts of the moment. By showing how reductivist explanations for sexual orientation lean on essentialist ideas about gender, Lancaster invites us to think more deeply and creatively about human acts and social relations.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520236202
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 5/1/2003
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 455
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author


Roger N. Lancaster teaches anthropology and cultural studies at George Mason University, where he directs the Cultural Studies Ph.D. program. He edited (with Micaela di Leonardo) The Gender/Sexuality Reader (1997) and is the author of Life Is Hard: Machismo, Danger, and the Intimacy of Power in Nicaragua (California, 1993), which won the C. Wright Mills Award and the Ruth Benedict Prize.
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Table of Contents


List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Introduction. Culture Wars, Nature Wars: A Report from the Front

ORIGINS STORIES
1. In the Beginning, Nature
2. The Normal Body
3. The Human Design
4. Our Animals, Our Selves

ADAM AND EVE DO THE WILD THING: THE SCIENCE OF DESIRE, THE SELFISH GENE, AND OTHER MODERN FABLES
5. The Science Question: Cultural Preoccupations and Social Struggles
6. Sexual Selection: Eager, Aggressive Boy Meets Coy, Choosy Girl
7. The Selfish Gene
8. Genomania and Heterosexual Fetishism

VENUS AND MARS AT THE FIN DE DIECLE: EVOLUTIONARY PSYCHOLOGY AND THE MODERN ART OF SPIN
9. Biological Beauty and the Straight Arrow of Desire
10. Homo Faber, Family Man
11. T-Power
12. Nature’s Marriage Laws

VARIETIES OF HUMAN NATURE: THE VIEW FROM ANTHROPOLOGY AND HISTORY
13. Marooned on Survivor Island
14. Selective Affinities: Commonalities and Differences in the Family of Man
15. The Social Body
16. The Practices of Sex

PERMUTATIONS ON THE "NATURE" OF DESIRE: THE GAY BRAIN, THE GAY GENE, AND OTHER TALES OF IDENTITY
17. This Queer Body
18. The Biology of the Homosexual
19. Desire Is Not a "Thing"
20. Familiar Patterns, Dangerous Liaisons

THE ENDS OF NATURE: THE WEIRD ANTINOMIES OF POSTMODERN MASS CULTURE
21. "Nature" in Quotation Marks
22. Money’s Subject
23. History and Historicity Flow through the Body Politic
24. The Politics of Dread and Desire
25. Sex and Citizenship in the Age of Flexible Accumulation

An Open-Ended Conclusion
Notes
Index

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