State University of New York Press

SUNY series in Feminist Criticism and Theory

Michelle A. Massé

Published by: State University of New York Press

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SUNY series in Feminist Criticism and Theory

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Amending the Abject Body

Aesthetic Makeovers in Medicine and Culture

Feminist theorists have often argued that aesthetic surgeries and body makeovers dehumanize and disempower women patients, whose efforts at self-improvement lead to their objectification. Amending the Abject Body proposes that although objectification is an important element in this phenomenon, the explosive growth of “makeover culture” can be understood as a process of both abjection (ridding ourselves of the unwanted) and identification (joining the community of what Julia Kristeva calls “clean and proper bodies”). Drawing from the advertisement and advocacy of body makeovers on television, in aesthetic surgery trade books, and in the print and Web-based marketing of face lifts, tummy tucks, and Botox injections, Deborah Caslav Covino articulates the relationship among objectification, abjection, and identification, and offers a fuller understanding of contemporary beauty-desire.

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Are All the Women Still White?

Rethinking Race, Expanding Feminisms

Janell Hobson

Provides a contemporary response to such landmark volumes as All the Women Are White, All the Blacks Are Men, But Some of Us Are Brave and This Bridge Called My Back.

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Celluloid Nationalism and Other Melodramas

From Post-Revolutionary Mexico to fin de siglo Mexamerica

Celluloid Nationalism and Other Melodramas looks at representation and rebellion in times of national uncertainty. Moving from mid-century Mexican cinema to recent films staged in Los Angeles and Mexico City, Susan Dever analyzes melodrama’s double function as a genre and as a sensibility, revealing coincidences between movie morals and political pieties in the civic-minded films of Emilio Fernández, Matilde Landeta, Allison Anders, and Marcela Fernández Violante. These filmmakers’ rationally and emotionally engaged cinema—offering representations of indigenous peoples and poor urban women who alternately endorsed “civilizing” projects and voiced resistance to such totalization—both interrupts and sustains fictions of national coherence in an increasingly transnational world.

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Family Flamboyant, The

Race Politics, Queer Families, Jewish Lives

Interrogates the normative heterosexual family from feminist, Jewish, and queer perspectives. The Family Flamboyant is a graceful and lucid account of the many routes to family formation. Weaving together personal experience and political analysis in an examination of how race, gender, sexuality, class, and other hierarchies function in family politics, Marla Brettschneider draws on her own experience in a Jewish, multiracial, adoptive, queer family in order to theorize about the layered realities that characterize families in the United States today. Brettschneider uses critical race politics, feminist insight, class-based analysis, and queer theory to offer a distinct and distinctly Jewish contribution to both the family debates and the larger project of justice politics.

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From Girl to Woman

American Women's Coming-of-Age Narratives

From Girl to Woman examines the coming-of-age narratives of a diverse group of American women writers, including Annie Dillard, Zora Neale Hurston, Maxine Hong Kingston, and Mary McCarthy, and explores the crucial role of such narratives in the development of American feminism. Women have long known that identity is complex and contradictory, but in the twentieth century their coming-of-age narratives finally voice this knowledge. Addressing a variety of themes—awakening sexuality, the body’s metamorphosis in puberty, consciousness of difference from males, and the socialization into feminine gender roles—these narratives reject the heroine’s narrative ending in romance, allowing American women writers to create alternative subjectivities by rejecting the notion that identity is ever fixed. While activists have succeeded in winning legal battles that have changed the legal status of women, these narratives perform the cultural work of exposing the painful contradictions faced by women as they come of age.

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Ideologies of Forgetting

Rape in the Vietnam War

First book to study rape and sexual abuse of Vietnamese women by U.S. soldiers during the Vietnam War. Rape has long been a part of war, and recent conflicts in Bosnia, Rwanda, and Darfur demonstrate that it may be becoming an even more integral strategy of modern warfare. In contrast to the media attention to sexual violence against women in these recent conflicts, however, the incidence and consequences of rape in the Vietnam War have been largely overlooked. Using testimony, oral accounts, literature, and film, Ideologies of Forgetting focuses on the rape and sexual abuse of Vietnamese women by U.S. soldiers during the Vietnam war, and argues that the erasure and elision of these practices of sexual violence in the U.S. popular imagination perpetuates the violent masculinity central to contemporary U.S. military culture. Gina Marie Weaver claims that recognition of this violence is important not just for an accurate historical record, but also to truly understand the Vietnam veteran’s trauma, which often stems from his aggression rather than his victimization. Gina Marie Weaver is Assistant Professor of English at Southern Nazarene University.

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Language of the Eyes, The

Science, Sexuality, and Female Vision in English Literature and Culture, 1690-1927

While Darwinian and Freudian theories of vision and sexuality have represented women as lacking visual agency, Daryl Ogden’s The Language of the Eyes argues that “the gaze” is not merely a masculine phenomenon, and that women have powerfully desiring eyes as well. Ogden offers a comprehensive cultural history of female visuality in England by analyzing scientific writings, conduct books, illustrated periodicals, poetry, painting, and novels, and he makes important and hitherto unrecognized connections between literary history, cultural studies, and science studies. In so doing, Ogden accomplishes what numerous feminist critics—especially film theorists—have not: the recovery of the modern female spectator from historical obscurity.

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Mothers Who Deliver

Feminist Interventions in Public and Interpersonal Discourse

New directions in thinking about mothering. Mothers Who Deliver: Feminist Interventions in Public and Interpersonal Discourse brings together essays that focus on mothering as an intelligent practice, deliberately reinvented and rearticulated by mothers themselves. The contributors to this watershed volume focus on subjects ranging from mothers in children’s picture books and mothers writing blogs to global maternal activism and mothers raising gay sons. Distinguishing itself from much writing about motherhood today, Mothers Who Deliver focuses on forward-looking arguments and new forms of knowledge about the practice of mothering instead of remaining solely within the realm of critique. Together, the essays create a compelling argument about the possibilities of empowered mothering.

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Over Ten Million Served

Gendered Service in Language and Literature Workplaces

First book on gender and academic service. All tenured and tenure-track faculy know the trinity of promotion and tenure criteria: research, teaching, and service. While teaching and research are relatively well defined areas of institutional focus and evaluation, service work is rarely tabulated or analyzed as a key aspect of higher education’s political economy. Instead, service, silent and invisible, coexists with the formal “official” economy of many institutions, just as women’s unrecognized domestic labor props up the formal, official economies of countries the world over. Over Ten Million Served explores what academic service is and investigates why this labor is often not acknowledged as “labor” by administrators or even by faculty themselves, but is instead relegated to a gendered form of institutional caregiving. By analyzing the actual labor of service, particularly for women and racial, ethnic, and sexual minorities, contributors expose the hidden economy of institutional service, challenging the feminization of service labor in the academy for both female and male academic laborers.

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Radical Feminism, Writing, and Critical Agency

From Manifesto to Modem

This book traces the intersection of radical feminism, composition, and print culture in order to address a curious gap in feminist composition studies: the manifesto-writing, collaborative-action-taking radical feminists of the 1960s and 1970s. Long before contemporary debates over essentialism, radical feminist groups questioned both what it was to be a woman and to perform womanhood, and a key part of that questioning took the form of very public, very contentious texts by such writers and groups as Shulamith Firestone, the Redstockings, and WITCH (the Women’s International Terrorist Conspiracy from Hell). Rhodes explores how these radical women’s texts have been silenced in contemporary rhetoric and composition, and compares their work to that of contemporary online activists, finding that both point to a “network literacy” that blends ever-shifting identities with ever-changing technologies in order to take action. Ultimately, Rhodes argues, the articulation of radical feminist textuality can benefit both scholarship and classroom as it situates writers as rhetorical agents who can write, resist, and finally act within a network of discourses and identifications.

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