Volatile Bodies

Volatile Bodies

Toward a Corporeal Feminism
Elizabeth Grosz
Distribution: Australia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines and Singapore
Publication date: 06/22/1994
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-253-20862-0
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Description

The location of the author’s investigations, the body itself rather than the sphere of subjective representations of self and of function in cultures, is wholly new.... I believe this work will be a landmark in future feminist thinking." —Alphonso Lingis

This is a text of rare erudition and intellectual force. It will not only introduce feminists to an enriching set of theoretical perspectives but sets a high critical standard for feminist dialogues on the status of the body." —Judith Butler

Volatile Bodies demonstrates that the sexually specific body is socially constructed: biology or nature is not opposed to or in conflict with culture. Human biology is inherently social and has no pure or natural "origin" outside of culture. Being the raw material of social and cultural organization, it is "incomplete" and thus subject to the endless rewriting and social inscription that constitute all sign systems.

Examining the theories of Freud, Lacan, Merleau-Ponty, Foucault, Deleuze, Derrida, etc. on the subject of the body, Elizabeth Grosz concludes that the body they theorize is male. These thinkers are not providing an account of "human" corporeality but of male corporeality. Grosz then turns to corporeal experiences unique to women—menstruation, pregnancy, childbirth, lactation, menopause. Her examination of female experience lays the groundwork for developing theories of sexed corporeality rather than merely rectifying flawed models of male theorists.

Author Bio

ELIZABETH GROSZ is a Senior Lecturer at the Institute for Critical and Cultural Studies, Monash University. She is the author of Sexual Subversions: Three French Feminists and Jacques Lacan: A Feminist Introduction.

Reviews

““. . . one of the best cultural studies books on theories of the body.” —Passion “ . . . Grosz writes a thorough and philosophically well-crafted prolegomenon for a new corporeal feminism.” —Signs “Working through an impressive range of theories, it raises important questions and ventures into new terrain which invites further exploration.” —Rocky Mountain Review “ . . . a must-read for feminist scholars and for any serious scholar of the body.” —Review “Volatile Bodies is an enlightening and critically significant addition to feminist discussions of embodiment, sexuality, and difference.” —Masculinities “This is a lucidly written study, which sets out debates clearly for those not familiar with the field, while being impressive in its erudition.” —Radical Philosophy “This is a text of rare erudition and intellectual force. It will not only introduce feminist to an enriching set of theoretical perspectives but set a high critical standard for feminist dialogues on the body.” —Judith Butler “Because it both offers arms for counterviolence and a sharply critical read of the philosophical foundations of much of the new critical work in anthropology, the book is highly recommended . . .” —American Anthropologist Elizabeth Grosz examines the corporeal experiences unique to women—menstruation, pregnancy, childbirth, lactation, menopause—to lay the groundwork for new theories of sexed corporeality.”

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Table of Contents

Introduction and Acknowledgments

Part I. Introduction
1. Refiguring Bodies

Part II. The Inside Out

2. Psychoanalysis and Psychical Topographies

3. Body Images: Neurophysiology and Corporeal Mappings

4. Lived Bodies: Phenomenology and the Flesh

Part III. The Outside In

5. Nietzsche and the Choreography of Knowledge

6. The Body as Inscriptive Surface

7. Intensities and Flows

Part IV. Sexual Difference

8. Sexed Bodies

Notes
Bibliography
Index