Embodying the Monster: Encounters with the Vulnerable Self

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SAGE Publications, 2002 - Social Science - 153 pages
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'(A) consistently interesting and provocative work, which offers a great deal in seven chapters. It marks an innovative interdisciplinary approach to questions of embodiment and subjectivity' - Disability and Society

'This is an elegantly written book which has, as its main aim, to rethink the idea of difference in the western imaginary through a consideration of two themes: monsters and how these have come to define, but potentially to deconstruct, normality; and the whole idea of vulnerability and the vulnerable and the extent to which such a state is one that all of us are constantly in danger of entering ... The theoretical and philosophical content - Derrida, Lacan, Foucault, Irrigaray, Butler, Levinas, and Haraway in particular - together with the range of empirical examples used to illustrate the arguments, make the book an ideal one for third level undergraduates and for post-graduates, particularly those studying the sociology of embodiment, feminist theory, critical theory and cultural studies. Shildrick accomplishes the task of making difficult ideas comprehensible without reducing them to the simplistic' - Sociology

Written by one of the most distinguished commentators in the field, this book asks why we see some bodies as `monstrous' or `vulnerable' and examines what this tells us about ideas of bodily `normality' and bodily perfection.

Drawing on feminist theories of the body, biomedical discourse and historical data, Margrit Shildrick argues that the response to the monstrous body has always been ambivalent. In trying to organize it out of the discourses of normality, we point to the impossibility of realizing a fully developed, invulnerable self. She calls upon us to rethink the monstrous, not as an abnormal category, but as a condition of attractivenes, and demonstrates how this involves an exploration of relationships between bodies and embodied selves, and a revising of the phenomenology of the body.

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References to this book

Embodying Gender
Alexandra Howson
Limited preview - 2005
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About the author (2002)

My long term research interests have focused on the body and particularly on the notion of the anomalous body, whether that relates to sex and gender, to disability, to ageing, or to cyborgs. At present I am working on an international project exploring the phenomenology of heart transplant recipients. My approach has always been broadly postmodernist - or at least poststructuralist - and strongly influenced by the ongoing development of feminist theory and of postconventional bioethics. For many years I have done collaborative work on disability, and the area of Critical Disability Studies has more recently become a sharper focus of research. I have recently finished a new book (Dangerous Discourses) which brings together many of my existing interests as well as extending them into legal theory, queer theory and even psychoanalysis. I hope that any students (or intending students) pursuing dissertations or theses in any of those fields will get in contact.

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