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Nudity : A Cultural Anatomy - Ruth Barcan


A Cultural Anatomy

Hardcover Published: 17th June 2004
ISBN: 9781859738726
Number Of Pages: 308

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Nudity features regularly in all major media. So why is it illegal to appear naked in public? Nudity has always been paradoxical. In modern consumer culture, it is actively encouraged in some contexts, but criminal or deviant in others. Images of nudity are everywhere. Advertising uses nudity to sell everything from housing loans to appliances, perfume to cars. Nudity has, in fact, become the latest fashion. This is not surprising. Advertising and fashion need a constant stream of novelty and there's nothing so new as nudity, the oldest fashion of all. Aside from being big business, nudity is a legal and moral minefield, the object of psychological study, and a mundane fact of everyday life. We alternately think of it as a perversion and a state of absolute innocence. Why does nudity mean so many contradictory things, and why is it treated so differently in different contexts? Drawing on a wealth of examples from popular culture, literature, philosophy and religion, as well as first-hand interviews, Nudity: A Cultural Anatomy goes deep into the naked underworld to answer these questions. Barcan encounters morticians, nudists, strippers, nurses, tattooists, artists and makers of pornography. She demonstrates that ordinary people, popular culture and high philosophy are all sources of wisdom about the naked body. Nudity is one of the most fundamental metaphors in the Western tradition - indeed, it is a metaphor for human nature itself - and yet this book is one of the first to explore its paradoxes in depth. Barcan's mission is to shine a light on a topic that has been largely ignored, even within cultural studies, despite its ability to titillate, shock or entertain. From pubic hair fashions through to a Royal "full monty," Nudity: A Cultural Anatomy is a fascinating blend of meaningful minutiae and big philosophical questions about the most unnatural state of nature in the modern West.

'Ultimately it's fascinating, as it could hardly fail to be.' Giles Whittell, Times 'Ive met a lot of folks that think a lot about nudity, but none understand it as well as Ruth Barcan. Nudity: A Cultural Anatomy is a fascinating book about a fascinating subject, and the first of its kind. It goes deep inside nudity, picks it apart, unveils its mysteries, and shines light on its complexities. I was amazed.' Annie Sprinkle, Ph.D., Nude performer turned Sexologist 'Ruth Barcans brilliant study of the social meanings of nudity is at once learned, witty, and incisive. To be nude is never to be naked: this book ranges broadly across philosophy, religion, literature and popular culture to tell us why, in a lucid analysis of our divided and complex status as human beings.' John Frow, University of Edinburgh 'Nudity interests everyone, but few understand it deeply. Ruth Barcan does. With splendid insight, she examines theory and practice to elucidate nudity as identity, performance, metaphor -- and a paradoxical phenomenon that both reflects and influences our humanity in all its complexity. This is a wonderful book, fascinating and refreshing.' Paul Rapoport, McMaster University, and editor of Going Natural 'This book is excellent and of the highest standard in terms of scholarly discussion and exposition; it is also very lively, entertaining, and superbly written. The author claims that the book is rather 'quirky' - and it is, indeed, distinctly offbeat. It is also incredibly illuminating of fundamental questions about humanity and embodiment.' Joanne Entwistle, University of Essex and co-editor of Body Dressing 'Two kinds of nudity? Oh, there are many, many kinds. If you want to know how many, try Ruth Barcan's Nudity: A Cultural Anatomy. Her subject is both embracing and inviting. We are all potentially naked, and we're all pretty interested. In a way, that's the point. The nude body is never a matter of indifference.' Evening Standard, Books 'Fascinating, instructive and salutory...we certainly need the precious insights this book brings to an area where our thinking, if it takes place at all, is so often muddled.' Simon Wilson, RA Magazine 'Nudity is one of the most fundemental metaphors in the western tradition, indeed, it is a metaphor for human nature itself, and yet 'Nudity: A Cultural Anatomy' is the first book to explore its paradoxes in depth.' Clifford Thurlow, The New Nude Mag 'Barcan is an Australian cultural studies academic, and her subject is both embracing and inviting.' Tom Lubbock, Evening Standard, Books

List of Illustrationsp. vii
Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introductionp. 1
The Nudity/Clothing Dialecticp. 11
The Metaphor of Nudityp. 77
Unnatural Nature: Mess, Savagery, Perversion, Crimep. 143
The Nude Republic: Celebrity, "Ordinariness" and Identityp. 207
Conclusionp. 279
Referencesp. 285
Indexp. 301
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9781859738726
ISBN-10: 1859738729
Series: Dress, Body, Culture (Hardcover)
Audience: Tertiary; University or College
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 308
Published: 17th June 2004
Publisher: BERG PUBL INC
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 24.18 x 16.41  x 2.79
Weight (kg): 0.63
Edition Number: 1