Embodied Shame: Uncovering Female Shame in Contemporary Women's Writings

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2010-07-02
  • Publisher: State Univ of New York Pr
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How does physical, emotional, and sexual abuse shape women's perceptions of their bodies and identities? How are women's psyches affected by the sexual, racial, and cultural denigration that occurs when women's bodies are represented as defective, spoiled, damaged, or dirtied? Embodied Shame skillfully explores these questions in the context of recent writings by North American women, contributing to work in shame theory and to feminist analyses of the intersections of theories of the body, affect, emotions, narrative, and trauma. By examining popular contemporary fictional and nonfictional texts, including Alice Munro's Lives of Girls and Women, Dorothy Allison's Bastard Out of Carolina, Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye, Edwidge Danticat's Breath, Eyes, Memory, and Lucy Grealy's Autobiography of a Face, J. Brooks Bousonilluminates how deeply entrenched bodily shame continues to operate in contemporary culture, even as we celebrate the supposed freeing of the female body from the social and cultural constraints that have long bound it. Book jacket.

Author Biography

J. Brooks Bouson is Professor of English at Loyola University Chicago. She is the author of Jamaica Kincaid: Writing Memory, Writing Back to the Mother and Quiet As It's Kept: Shame, Trauma, and Race in the Novels of Toni Morrison, both also published by Suny Press.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introductionp. 1
Coming of Age, Coming to Shame: The Parental and Cultural Transmission of Sexual, Racial, and Class Shame
The Humiliations of the Female Flesh in Alice Munro's: Lives of Girls and Womenp. 19
Family Violence, Incest, and White-Trash Shame in Dorothy Allison's: Bastard out of Carolinap. 35
Racial Self-Loathing and the Color Complex in Toni Morrison's: The Bluest Eye and Marita Golden's DonÆt Play in the Sunp. 53
Sexual Shame, Family Honor, and the Mother-Daughter Relationship in Edwidge Danticat's: Breath, Eyes, Memoryp. 71
Coming of Age in a Culture of Shame in Naomi WolfÆs: Promiscuitiesp. 87
Speaking a Kind of Body Language: Shamed Bodies and Spoiled Identities in the Contemporary Culture of Appearances
Feeling Fat, Fearing Fat in Jenefer Shute's Life-Size and Judith Moore's Fat Girls: A True Storyp. 105
The Culture of Appearances and the Socially Invisible and Unattractive Woman in Anita Brookner's Look at Me, Doris Lessing's The Summary before the Dark, and Fay WeldonÆs: The Life and Loves of a She-Devilp. 125
Gerontophobia and the Cultural Shaming of the Elderly Woman in May Sarton's As We Are Now and Margaret Laurence's: The Stone Angelp. 147
Writing the Disfigured and Disabled Body-Self in Lucy Grealy's Autobiography of a Face and Nancy Mairs's: Plaintext, Carnal Acts, and Waist-High in the Worldp. 163
In Conclusionp. 181
Notesp. 185
Works Citedp. 207
Indexp. 219
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