Reading Eating Disorders: Writings on Bulimia and Anorexia as Confessions of American Culture

Reading Eating Disorders: Writings on Bulimia and Anorexia as Confessions of American Culture

by Greta Olson


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Reading Eating Disorders: Writings on Bulimia and Anorexia as Confessions of American Culture by Greta Olson

Approaching her topic from the field of cultural studies, Olson (Bonn U., Germany) explores treatments of eating disorders in American literature and what the reveal about the social dimensions of eating disorders, especially their race and class dimensions. She illustrates the social aspects of anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, and chronic dieting through the examination of poems and places them within the context of the American fashion for thinness. She then turns to longer works, including two novels about anorexia and novelistic portrayals of hospitalization for anorexia. Annotation ©2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780820464060
Publisher: Lang, Peter Publishing, Incorporated
Publication date: 04/28/2003
Series: Neue Studien Zur Anglistik Und Amerikani
Pages: 299
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 1.25(h) x 9.00(d)

About the Author

The Author: Greta Olson is a guest professor at Bonn University and a research fellow at Freiburg University. She has published work in philosophy, narratology, eighteenth-century novel, and the body as monster in writings by American women.

Table of Contents

Part I
IEating Disorders and their Causes21
1.1)The History of Anorexia and the Cult of Thinness23
1.2)Bulimia Nervosa and its History as Illustrated in Literature62
1.3)The Binge-Eating Disorder75
1.4)Sub-clinical Eating Disorders83
1.5)Why Has the Incidence of Eating Disorders Increased?89
1.5.1)Physiological Explanations89
1.5.2)Psychological Theories91
1.5.3)Eating Disorders as Cultural Ills103
IIPerspectives on Literary Accounts of Eating Disorders111
2.1)Reading Literature within its Cultural Context111
2.2)Metaphors of Hunger, Society, and Literature: Maud Ellmann's The Hunger Artists: Starving, Writing, and Imprisonment and Leslie Heywood's Dedication to Hunger: The Anorexic Aesthetic in Modern Culture118
2.3)Writings about Starvation and Gorging as Confessions127
Part II
IIIJenefer Shute's Life-Size: A Socially Critical and Confessional Account of an Anorectic's Hospitalization147
3.1)The Makings of an Anorectic151
Thinness, Wealth, and Status
Influence of Male Condemnation on Josie's Anorexia
Barbie: Icon of Idealized Womanhood
3.2)Confessional Aspects of Life-Size158
Josie's Distorted Sense of Self
Searching for Selfhood in Mirrors and Measurements
Josie's Distorted Sense of Other People's Bodies and Food
Testifying in an Enclosed Space
Aesthetic Qualities
3.3)Comparing Life-Size to Margaret Atwood's Lady Oracle: Confessional and Anti-Confessional Treatments of Disordered Eating179
IVStephanie Grant's The Passion of Alice: An Ironic Take on the Atmosphere of Coerced Confession in an Eating Disorder Clinic189
4.1)The Passion of Alice's Critique of American Culture Changes in Tone to Reflect Alterations in Consciousness190
4.2)The Anorexic Mindset and the Experience of Passion204
4.3)Institutionalized Confession: Secrets of the Eating Disordered209
VMarya Hornbacher's Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia: The Apotheosis of Confession221
5.1)Wasted as the Apotheosis of Confessional Literature229
5.2)Cultural Criticism or How-to Guide for Bulimia250
5.3)The Demonization of Bulimia263
Conclusion: America Confesses its Fear of Fat and Food271

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