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Dedication To Hunger: The Anorexic Aesthetic In Modern Culture
by Leslie Heywood
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CUPS, the Cafe Culture Magazine
"From the opening of her stunning book of cultural criticism, Heywood situates her 'own' personal body within a larger public discourse....From bodybuilding to advertisements to films to Eliotish fear of dust in a handful of personalities, Heywood's lively style intelligently questions some of our most basic assumptions."
Writing as a competitive athlete, an academic, and a woman, Leslie Heywood merges personal history and scholarship to expose the "anorexic logic" that underlies Western high culture. She maneuvers deftly across the terrain of modern literature, illustrating how this logic--the privileging of mind over body, of hard over soft, of masculine over feminine--is at the heart of the modernist style. Her argument ranges from Plato to women's bodybuilding, from Franz Kafka to Nike ads.
In penetrating examinations of Kafka, Pound, Eliot, William Carlos Williams, and Conrad, Heywood demonstrates how the anorexic aesthetic is embodied in high modernism. In a compelling chapter on Jean Rhys, Heywood portrays an author who struggles to develop a clean, spare, "anorexic" style in the midst of a shatteringly messy emotional life. As Heywood points out, students are trained in the aesthetic of high modernism, and academics are pressured into its straitjacket. The resulting complications are reflected in structures as diverse as gender identity formation, sexual harassment, and eating disorders.
Direct, engaging, and intensely informed by the author's personal involvement with her subject, Dedication to Hunger offers a powerful challenge to cultural assumptions about language, gender, subjectivity, and identity.
From the Inside Flap
"Leslie Heywood weaves deftly and powerfully between contemporary cultural analysis, literary criticism, and her own experiences as a postmodern/female body. The result is a work that is both critically acute and vibrating with emotional energy and insight, a work that itself constitutes a promise of new life in the 'anorexic' culture she so sharply diagnoses and interprets."--Susan Bordo, author of Unbearable Weight: Feminism, Western Culture, and the Body
"Though Dedication to Hunger is a brilliant book of literary criticism, it is also far more than that. It is a challenging work that should be widely read by all those interested in the underlying assumptions that define our culture."--J. Hillis Miller, author of The Ethics of Reading
From the Back Cover
"Leslie Heywood weaves deftly and powerfully between contemporary cultural analysis, literary criticism, and her own experiences as a postmodern/female body. The result is a work that is both critically acute and vibrating with emotional energy and insight, a work that itself constitutes a promise of new life in the 'anorexic' culture she so sharply diagnoses and interprets." (Susan Bordo, author of Unbearable Weight: Feminism, Western Culture, and the Body)
About the Author
Leslie Heywood is Assistant Professor of English at the State University of New York, Binghamton.
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