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

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The Concubine, the Princess, and the Teacher

Voices from the Ottoman Harem

Translated and edited by Douglas Scott Brookes

In the Western imagination, the Middle Eastern harem was a place of sex, debauchery, slavery, miscegenation, power, riches, and sheer abandon. But for the women and children who actually inhabited this realm of the imperial palace, the reality was vastly different. In this collection of translated memoirs, three women who lived in the Ottoman imperial harem in Istanbul between 1876 and 1924 offer a fascinating glimpse “behind the veil” into the lives of Muslim palace women of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The memoirists are Filizten, concubine to Sultan Murad V; Princess Ayse, daughter of Sultan Abdulhamid II; and Safiye, a schoolteacher who instructed the grandchildren and harem ladies of Sultan Mehmed V. Their recollections of the Ottoman harem reveal the rigid protocol and hierarchy that governed the lives of the imperial family and concubines, as well as the hundreds of slave women and black eunuchs in service to them. The memoirists show that, far from being a place of debauchery, the harem was a family home in which polite and refined behavior prevailed. Douglas Brookes explains the social structure of the nineteenth-century Ottoman palace harem in his introduction. These three memoirs, written across a half century and by women of differing social classes, offer a fuller and richer portrait of the Ottoman imperial harem than has ever before been available in English.

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Contemporary Maritime Piracy in Southeast Asia

History, Causes and Remedies

Adam J Young

This book explores contemporary maritime piracy in Southeast Asia, demonstrating the utility of using historical context in developing policy approaches that will address the roots of this resurgent phenomenon. The depth and breadth of historical piracy help highlight causative factors of contemporary piracy, which are immersed in the socio-cultural matrix of maritime-oriented peoples to whom piracy is still a “thinkable” option. The threats to life and property posed by piracy are relatively low, but significant given the strategic nature of these waterways that link the Pacific and Indian Oceans, and because piracy is emblematic of broader issues of weak state control in the littoral states of the region. Maritime piracy will never be completely eliminated, but with a progressive economic and political agenda aimed at changing the environment from which piracy is emerging, it could once again become the exception rather than the rule.

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Contested Paternity

Constructing Families in Modern France

Rachel G. Fuchs

This groundbreaking study examines complex notions of paternity and fatherhood in modern France through the lens of contested paternity. Drawing from archival judicial records on paternity suits, paternity denials, deprivation of paternity, and adoption, from the end of the eighteenth century through the twentieth, Rachel G. Fuchs reveals how paternity was defined and how it functioned in the culture and experiences of individual men and women. She addresses the competing definitions of paternity and of families, how public policy toward paternity and the family shifted, and what individuals did to facilitate their personal and familial ideals and goals. Issues of paternity and the family have broad implications for an understanding of how private acts were governed by laws of the state. Focusing on paternity as a category of family history, Contested Paternity emphasizes the importance of fatherhood, the family, and the law within the greater context of changing attitudes toward parental responsibility.

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Contested Waters

A Social History of Swimming Pools in America

Jeff Wiltse

From nineteenth-century public baths to today's private backyard havens, swimming pools have been a provocative symbol of American life. In this social and cultural history of swimming pools in the United States, Jeff Wiltse relates how, over the years, pools have served as asylums for the urban poor, leisure resorts for the masses, and private clubs for middle-class suburbanites. As sites of race riots, shrinking swimsuits, and conspicuous leisure, swimming pools reflect the tensions and transformations that have given rise to modern America.

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Contesting Realities

The Public Sphere and Morality in Southern Yemen

Susanne Dahlgren

As a resident of Aden for more than three years spanning the late years of Marxist South Yemen, Dahlgren presents the reader with an intimate portrait of Yemeni men and women in the home, in the factory, in the office, and in the street, demonstrating that Islamic societies must be understood through a multiplicity of social spheres and morality orders. Within each space, she examines the range of legal, political, religious, and social regulations that frame gender relations and social dynamics. Highlighting the diversity of women’s and men’s positions as a continuum rather than as distinct areas, Dahlgren presents a vivid picture of this dynamic society, providing an in-depth background to today’s political upheavals in Yemen.

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Country Boys and Redneck Women

New Essays on Gender and Country Music

edited by Diane Pecknold and Kristine M. McCusker

Country music boasts a long tradition of rich, contradictory gender dynamics, creating a world where Kitty Wells could play the demure housewife and the honky-tonk angel simultaneously, Dolly Parton could move from traditionalist “girl singer” to outspoken trans rights advocate, and current radio playlists can alternate between the reckless masculinity of bro-country and the adolescent girlishness of Taylor Swift.

In this follow-up volume to A Boy Named Sue, some of the leading authors in the field of country music studies reexamine the place of gender in country music, considering the ways country artists and listeners have negotiated gender and sexuality through their music and how gender has shaped the way that music is made and heard. In addition to shedding new light on such legends as Wells, Parton, Loretta Lynn, and Charley Pride, it traces more recent shifts in gender politics through the performances of such contemporary luminaries as Swift, Gretchen Wilson, and Blake Shelton. The book also explores the intersections of gender, race, class, and nationality in a host of less expected contexts, including the prisons of WWII-era Texas, where the members of the Goree All-Girl String Band became the unlikeliest of radio stars; the studios and offices of Plantation Records, where Jeannie C. Riley and Linda Martell challenged the social hierarchies of a changing South in the 1960s; and the burgeoning cities of present-day Brazil, where “college country” has become one way of negotiating masculinity in an age of economic and social instability.

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Critical Trauma Studies

Understanding Violence, Conflict and Memory in Everyday Life

Monica J. Casper

Trauma is a universal human experience. While each person responds differently to trauma, its presence in our lives nonetheless marks a continual thread through human history and prehistory. In Critical Trauma Studies, a diverse group of writers, activists, and scholars of sociology, anthropology, literature, and cultural studies reflects on the study of trauma and how multidisciplinary approaches lend richness and a sense of deeper understanding to this burgeoning field of inquiry. The original essays within this collection cover topics such as female suicide bombers from the Chechen Republic, singing prisoners in Iranian prison camps, sexual assault and survivor advocacy, and families facing the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. As it proceeds, Critical Trauma Studies never loses sight of the way those who study trauma as an academic field, and those who experience, narrate, and remediate trauma as a personal and embodied event, inform one another. Theoretically adventurous and deeply particular, this book aims to advance trauma studies as a discipline that transcends intellectual boundaries, to be mapped but also to be unmoored from conceptual and practical imperatives. Remaining embedded in lived experiences and material realities, Critical Trauma Studies frames the field as both richly unbounded and yet clearly defined, historical, and evidence-based.

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The Cultural Politics of U.S. Immigration

Gender, Race, and Media

Leah Perry

In the 1980s, amid increasing immigration from Latin America, the Caribbean, and Asia, the circle of who was considered American seemed to broaden, reflecting the democratic gains made by racial minorities and women. Although this expanded circle was increasingly visible in the daily lives of Americans through TV shows, films, and popular news media, these gains were circumscribed by the discourse that certain immigrants, for instance single and working mothers, were feared, censured, or welcomed exclusively as laborers.               

In The Cultural Politics of U.S. Immigration, Leah Perry argues that 1980s immigration discourse in law and popular media was a crucial ingredient in the cohesion of the neoliberal idea of democracy. Blending critical legal analysis with a feminist media studies methodology over a range of sources, including legal documents, congressional debates, and popular media, such as Golden Girls, Who’s the Boss?, Scarface, and Mi Vida Loca, Perry shows how even while “multicultural” immigrants were embraced, they were at the same time disciplined through gendered discourses of respectability. Examining the relationship between law and culture, this book weaves questions of legal status and gender into existing discussions about race and ethnicity to revise our understanding of both neoliberalism and immigration.

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Currency of Desire

Libidinal Economy, Psychoanalysis and Sexual Revolution

by David Bennett

The language of money has informed medical, psychological and political theories of sexual desire for at least 300 years. Desire, figured as libidinal energy, represented potential work-power and spending-power and hence a form of personal ‘capital’, an economic resource for both the individual and the collectivity. This book explores how this view of desire – formalised by Freud as ‘the economics of the libido’ – has shaped understandings of a sex-money nexus across disciplines and across genres. It investigates how changing psychological, commercial and political prescriptions for the ‘saving’, ‘investing’ or ‘spending’ of desire have related to developments in economic theory proper. It examines, among other things, the tensions between classical political economy’s ‘producer ethic’ and the ‘consumer ethic’, Keynesianism’s doctrine of economic health through spending rather than saving, communism’s replacement of a market economy with a command economy, and neoliberalism’s faith in the deregulated market as the paradigm of a free society. The book argues that any understanding of ‘the libidinal economy’ must take account of history. It shows that the business of eroticising the economy has a historical reach with thinkers as disparate as Mandeville, Tissot, Fourier, Parent-Duchâtelet, Marx, Freud, Gandhi, Reich, Marcuse and Dichter making contributions; it explores the way discourses of desire have shaped understandings of the sex-money nexus during three centuries of medical, psychological, political and erotic writing on topics ranging from onanism to advertising, psychoanalysis to shopping, prostitution to revolutionary politics.

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Czech Feminisms

Perspectives on Gender in East Central Europe

Edited by Iveta Jusová and Jiina Šiklová

In this wide-ranging study of women’s and gender issues in the pre- and post-1989 Czech Republic, contributors engage with current feminist debates and theories of nation and identity to examine the historical and cultural transformations of Czech feminism. This collection of essays by leading scholars, artists, and activists, explores such topics as reproductive rights, state socialist welfare provisions, Czech women’s NGOs, anarchofeminism, human trafficking, LGBT politics, masculinity, feminist art, among others. Foregrounding experiences of women and sexual and ethnic minorities in the Czech Republic, the contributors raise important questions about the transfer of feminist concepts across languages and cultures. As the economic orthodoxy of the European Union threatens to occlude relevant stories of the different national communities comprising the Eurozone, this book contributes to the understanding of the diverse origins from which something like a European community arises.

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