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Body Politics and the Fictional Double

Edited by Debra Walker King

Publication Year: 2000

Body Politics and the Fictional Double
Edited by Debra Walker King

Examines the disjunction between women's appearance and reality.

In recent years, questions concerning "the body" and its place in postmodern discourses have taken center stage in academic disciplines. Body Politics joins these discussions by focusing on the challenges women face when their externally defined identities and representations as bodies -- their body fictions -- speak louder than what they know to be their true selves.

Racialized, gendered, or homophobic body fictions disfigure individuals by placing them beneath a veil of invisibility and by political, emotional, or spiritual suffocation. As objects of interpretation, "female bodies" in search of health care, legal assistance, professional respect, identity confirmation, and financial security must first confront their fictionalized doubles in a collision that, in many cases, ends in disappointment, distress, and even suicide.

The contributors reflect on women's day-to-day lives and the cultural productions (literature, MTV, film, etc.) that give body fictions their power and influence. By exploring how these fictions are manipulated politically, expressively, and communally, they offer reinterpretations that challenge the fictional double while theorizing the discursive and performative forms it takes.

Contributors include Trudier Harris, Maude Hines, S. Yumiko Hulvey, Debra Walker King, Sue V. Rosser, Stephanie A. Smith, Maureen Turim, Caroline Vercoe, Gloria Wade-Gayles, and Rosemary Weatherston.

Debra Walker King, Associate Professor of English at the University of Florida, Gainesville, is author of Deep Talk: Reading African American Literary Names. She has published articles and reviews in Names: the Journal of the American Name Society; Philosophy and Rhetoric; and African American Review.

Contents
Introduction: Body Fictions, Debra Walker King
Who Says an Older Woman Can't/Shouldn't Dance?, Gloria Wade-Gayles
When Body Politics of Partial Identifications Collide with Multiple Identities of Real Academics: Limited Understandings of Research and Truncated Collegial Interactions, Sue V. Rosser
Body Language: Corporeal Semiotics, Literary Resistance, Maude Hines
Writing in Red Ink, Debra Walker King
Myths and Monsters: The Female Body as the Site for Political Agendas, S. Yumiko Hulvey
Agency and Ambivalence: A Reading of Works by Coco Fusco, Caroline Vercoe
Performing Bodies, Performing Culture: An interview with Coco Fusco and Nao Bustamante, Rosemary Weatherston
Women Singing, Women Gesturing: The Gendered and Racially-Coded Body of Music Video, Maureen Turim
Bombshell, Stephanie A. Smith
Afterword: The Unbroken Circle of Assumptions, Trudier Harris

Published by: Indiana University Press

CONTENTS

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pp. v-

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Introduction: Body Fictions

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pp. vii-xiv

In recent years, discussions concerning the materiality of the body and its place in postmodern discourses have taken center stage in academic conferences and publications across disciplines. This volume was conceived as a result of my encounter with a collection of personal stories titled Minding the Body2 and two academic events...

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[1] Who Says an Older Woman Can’t/Shouldn’t Dance?

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pp. 1-22

When you are fifty and over, people seem to feel the need to tell you how well you are physically wearing/weathering your age. Their evaluations are compliments, or perhaps I should say “condiments”—thick catsup, sweet jellies, creamy sauces, and brown gravy needed for meals we did not order...

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[2] When Body Politics of Partial Identifications Collide with Multiple Identities of Real Academics: Limited Understandings of Research and Truncated Collegial Interactions

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pp. 23-37

White, fifty years old, middle-class, lesbian, mother, formerly married for eleven years, French major, Ph.D., scientist, director of women’s studies, interdisciplinary—all are descriptors of me. Some, such as my race, stand as immutable markers known from the time of my birth. Others, such as motherhood, became biological and psychological constants after a...

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[3] Body Language: Corporeal Semiotics, Literary Resistance

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pp. 38-55

This essay represents an attempt to grapple with the silent and unacknowledged language of corporeal semiotics, that system of signification that our bodies represent to others who read them as texts unauthored by ourselves. I first became interested in (or, more accurately, frustrated by) the ways in which our bodies mean, whether we mean them to or not, long...

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[4] Writing in Red Ink

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pp. 56-70

Karla Holloway opens the first chapter of Codes of Conduct (1995) with a confession: “My grandmother warned me away from red.”1 I too was warned against red; and, during most of my adolescent years, I refused to wear it. For me, and others like me, red suggested an audaciousness, rebelliousness, and promiscuity condemned by the ethically and morally...

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[5] Myths and Monsters: The Female Body as the Site for Political Agendas

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pp. 71-88

Enchi’s “Haru no Uta” (“Spring Song,” 1971) and Saimu (Colored Mist, 1975), among others, reflect images of women who “drain” the life force from the men with whom they have had sex and suggest men as victims of supernatural, empowered women in the yamauba tradition...

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[6] Agency and Ambivalence: A Reading of Works by Coco Fusco

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pp. 89-104

Two rows in front of me a middle-aged woman shuffles nervously as “Rosa,” dressed in floral hot pants, large hair, and a boob-tube, invites audience members up on stage to join in an Afro-Frenetic Dance Extravaganza. Beside me, an excited young man waves his blue ticket in the air and is duly led on stage...

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[7] Performing Bodies, Performing Culture: An Interview with Coco Fusco and Nao Bustamante

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pp. 105-130

Nao Bustamante is a performance artist pioneer who has been based in San Francisco’s Mission District for over a decade. Notorious for her edgy improvisational pieces in which both she and her audiences are on display, she describes her artistic method as one of disarming audience members “with a sense of vulnerability and sensuality, only to confront them with a...

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[8] Women Singing, Women Gesturing: Music Videos

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pp. 131-151

From the suggestive, masturbatory images of a singer stroking herself in a video clip to the subtle directional movement of an actor’s eyes in a close-up image in which nothing else moves, filmic and televisual gesture cover a wide range of coded, and yet elusive, movements of the body. I will look at how such gestures are understood and will specifically explore the meaning...

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[9] Bombshell

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pp. 152-177

Shocking, stunning, shattering: so a literal bombshell might be described. Low, vulgar, silly: these words, on the other hand, characterize a rather different sort of bombshell, that of the 1950s burlesque, va-va-voom! variety. American tabloid news reminded readers of these differences in December 1998, with headlines like the New York Post’s BOMBS AND BOMBSHELLS1...

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Afterword: The Unbroken Circle of Assumptions

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pp. 178-185

Déjà vu. I am vacationing in Spain, returning to my hotel with bags of purchases in both hands. A man approaches me. He gestures that he will help me carry my bags. I say, “No thanks.” He keeps walking beside me and insisting. He is speaking Spanish too quickly for me to comprehend his words, but his intentions become clear. He takes out his wallet, opens it...

Notes

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pp. 187-196

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 197-202

Contributors

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pp. 203-205

Index

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pp. 207-214


E-ISBN-13: 9780253108326
E-ISBN-10: 0253108322
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253337795

Page Count: 232
Illustrations: 9 b&w photos, 1 bibliog., 1 index
Publication Year: 2000