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Women's Studies, Gender, and Sexuality > Gender Studies

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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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Androgyny in Late Ming and Early Qing Literature

Zuyan Zhou

The frequent appearance of androgyny in Ming and Qing literature has long interested scholars of late imperial Chinese culture. A flourishing economy, widespread education, rising individualism, a prevailing hedonism--all of these had contributed to the gradual disintegration of traditional gender roles in late Ming and early Qing China (1550-1750) and given rise to the phenomenon of androgyny. Now, Zuyan Zhou sheds new light on this important period, offering a highly original and astute look at the concept of androgyny in key works of Chinese fiction and drama from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries. The work begins with an exploration of androgyny in Chinese philosophy and Ming-Qing culture. Zhou proceeds to examine chronologically the appearance of androgyny in major literary writing of the time, yielding novel interpretations of canonical works from The Plum in the Golden Vase, through the scholar-beauty romances, to The Dream of the Red Chamber. He traces the ascendance of the androgyny craze in the late Ming, its culmination in the Ming-Qing transition, and its gradual phasing out after the mid-Qing. The study probes deviations from engendered codes of behavior both in culture and literature, then focuses on two parallel areas: androgyny in literary characterization and androgyny in literati identity. The author concludes that androgyny in late Ming and early Qing literature is essentially the dissident literati's stance against tyrannical politics, a psychological strategy to relieve anxiety over growing political inferiority.

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Anna Seward and the End of the Eighteenth Century

Claudia Thomas Kairoff

Anna Seward and her career defy easy placement into the traditional periods of British literature. Raised to emulate the great poets John Milton and Alexander Pope, maturing in the Age of Sensibility, and publishing during the early Romantic era, Seward exemplifies the eighteenth-century transition from classical to Romantic. Claudia Thomas Kairoff’s excellent critical study offers fresh readings of Anna Seward’s most important writings and firmly establishes the poet as a pivotal figure among late-century British writers. Reading Seward’s writing alongside recent scholarship on gendered conceptions of the poetic career, patriotism, provincial culture, sensibility, and the sonnet revival, Kairoff carefully reconsiders Seward’s poetry and critical prose. Written as it was in the last decades of the eighteenth century, Seward’s work does not comfortably fit into the dominant models of Enlightenment-era verse or the tropes that characterize Romantic poetry. Rather than seeing this as an obstacle for understanding Seward’s writing within a particular literary style, Kairoff argues that this allows readers to see in Seward’s works the eighteenth-century roots of Romantic-era poetry. Arguably the most prominent woman poet of her lifetime, Seward’s writings disappeared from popular and scholarly view shortly after her death. After nearly two hundred years of critical neglect, Seward is attracting renewed attention, and with this book Kairoff makes a strong and convincing case for including Anna Seward's remarkable literary achievements among the most important of the late eighteenth century.

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The Archival Turn in Feminism

Outrage in Order

In the 1990s, a generation of women born during the rise of the second wave feminist movement plotted a revolution. These young activists funneled their outrage and energy into creating music, and zines using salvaged audio equipment and stolen time on copy machines. By 2000, the cultural artifacts of this movement had started to migrate from basements and storage units to community and university archives, establishing new sites of storytelling and political activism.
 
The Archival Turn in Feminism chronicles these important cultural artifacts and their collection, cataloging, preservation, and distribution. Cultural studies scholar Kate Eichhorn examines institutions such as the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture at Duke University, The Riot Grrrl Collection at New York University, and the Barnard Zine Library. She also profiles the archivists who have assembled these significant feminist collections.
 
Eichhorn shows why young feminist activists, cultural producers, and scholars embraced the archive, and how they used it to stage political alliances across eras and generations.

A volume in the American Literatures Initiative

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Argentine, Mexican, and Guatemalan Photography

Feminist, Queer, and Post-Masculinist Perspectives

By David William Foster

Viewing the work of twelve prominent photographers, including Graciela Iturbide, Pedro Meyer, and Marcos López, this first far-ranging analysis of gendered perspectives in Latin American photography demonstrates the importance of this art form within Latin American cultural production.

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Armed Forces

Masculinity and Sexuality in the American War Film

Robert Eberwein

In war films, the portrayal of deep friendships between men is commonplace. Given the sexually anxious nature of the American imagination, such bonds are often interpreted as carrying a homoerotic subtext. In Armed Forces , Robert Eberwein argues that an expanded conception of masculinity and sexuality is necessary in order to understand more fully the intricacy of these intense and emotional human relationships. Drawing on a range of examples from silent films such as What Price Glory and Wings to sound era works like The Deer Hunter, Platoon, Three Kings, and Pearl Harbor , he shows how close readings of war films, particularly in relation to their cultural contexts, demonstrate that depictions of heterosexual love, including those in romantic triangles, actually help to define and clarify the nonsexual nature of male love. The book also explores the problematic aspects of masculinity and sexuality when threatened by wounds, as in The Best Years of Our Lives, and considers the complex and persistent analogy between weapons and the male body, as in Full Metal Jacket and Saving Private Ryan .

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Art Work

Women Artists and Democracy in Mid-Nineteenth-Century New York

By April F. Masten

"I was in high spirits all through my unwise teens, considerably puffed up, after my drawings began to sell, with that pride of independence which was a new thing to daughters of that period."—The Reminiscences of Mary Hallock Foote

Mary Hallock made what seems like an audacious move for a nineteenth-century young woman. She became an artist. She was not alone. Forced to become self-supporting by financial panics and civil war, thousands of young women moved to New York City between 1850 and 1880 to pursue careers as professional artists. Many of them trained with masters at the Cooper Union School of Design for Women, where they were imbued with the Unity of Art ideal, an aesthetic ideology that made no distinction between fine and applied arts or male and female abilities. These women became painters, designers, illustrators, engravers, colorists, and art teachers. They were encouraged by some of the era's best-known figures, among them Tribune editor Horace Greeley and mechanic/philanthropist Peter Cooper, who blamed the poverty and dependence of both women and workers on the separation of mental and manual labor in industrial society. The most acclaimed artists among them owed their success to New York's conspicuously egalitarian art institutions and the rise of the illustrated press. Yet within a generation their names, accomplishments, and the aesthetic ideal that guided them virtually disappeared from the history of American art.

Art Work: Women Artists and Democracy in Mid-Nineteenth-Century New York recaptures the unfamiliar cultural landscape in which spirited young women, daring social reformers, and radical artisans succeeded in reuniting art and industry. In this interdisciplinary study, April F. Masten situates the aspirations and experience of these forgotten women artists, and the value of art work itself, at the heart of the capitalist transformation of American society.

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As Long as We Both Shall Love

The White Wedding in Postwar America

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AsiaPacifiQueer

Rethinking Genders and Sexualities

Fran Martin

This collection examines the shaping of local sexual cultures in the Asian Pacific region in order to move beyond definitions and understandings of sexuality that rely on Western assumptions. These diverse studies range across the Pacific Rim and encompass a variety of forms of social, cultural, and personal expression, examining sexuality through music, cinema, the media, shifts in popular rhetoric, comics and magazines, and historical studies._x000B__x000B_Contributors are Ronald Baytan, J. Neil C. Garcia, Kam Yip Lo Lucetta, Song Hwee Lim, J. Darren Mackintosh, Claire Maree, Jin-Hyung Park, Teri Silvio, Megan Sinnott, Yik Koon Teh, Carmen Ka Man Tong, James Welker, Heather Worth, and Audrey Yue.

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At Home with Pornography

Women, Sexuality, and Everyday Life

Jane Juffer

Twenty-five years after the start of the feminist sex wars, pornography remains a flashpoint issue, with feminists locked in a familiar argument: Are women victims or agents? In At Home with Pornography, Jane Juffer exposes the fruitlessness of this debate and suggests that it has prevented us from realizing women's changing relationship to erotica and porn.

Over the course of these same twenty-five years, there has been a proliferation of sexually explicit materials geared toward women, made available in increasingly mainstream venues. In asking "what is the relationship of women to pornography?" Juffer maintains that we need to stop obsessing over pornography's transgressive aspects, and start focusing on the place of porn and erotica in women's everyday lives. Where, she asks, do women routinely find it, for how much, and how is it circulated and consumed within the home? How is this circulation and consumption shaped by the different marketing categories that attempt to distinguish erotica from porn, such as women's literary erotica and sexual self-help videos for couples?

At Home with Pornography responds to these questions by viewing women's erotica within the context of governmental regulation that attempts to counterpose a "dangerous" pornography with the sanctity of the home. Juffer explorers how women's consumption of erotica and porn for their own pleasure can be empowering, while still acting to reinforce conservative ideals. She shows how, for instance, the Victoria's Secret catalog is able to function as a kind of pornography whose circulation is facilitated both by its reliance on Victorian themes of secrecy and privacy and on its appeals to the selfish pleasures of modern career women. In her pursuit to understand what women like and how they get it, Juffer delves into adult cable channels, erotic literary anthologies, sex therapy guides, cyberporn, masturbation, and sex toys, showing the varying degrees to which these materials have been domesticated for home consumption.

Representing the next generation of scholarship on pornography, At Home with Pornography will transform our understanding of women's everyday sexuality.

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