The body is a physical entity and a symbolic artifact. It is both created in the world of nature and also physically reconstructed by a culture. The body is both an internal, subjective environment and simultaneously an object for others to observe and evaluate. Bodily practices, woven within a dense web of social relationships, are then both individual and collective- the individual body expresses cultural values, rules, and regulations in the daily routine of living.
The American Body in Context: An Anthology is an interdisciplinary investigation of these body relationships, examining the American historical and contemporary constructions of the body. Through readings and exercises, this new book allows readers to explore interrelationships between the individualized and the constructed nature of embodied experiences. This comprehensive text draws together a wide variety of analyses and demonstrates the interdependence between the individual and the structural (re)productions of embodied experiences in the U.S.This is an excellent text for courses in American studies, American society, cultural and social anthropology, and gender studies.
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Jessica Johnston is a lecturer at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand where she teaches courses on contemporary American culture, deviance in America, power and knowledge in corporate America, and issues of identity and qualitative methodologies.Review:
From cinematic cyborgs and material girls to muscle men and aerobicizing women, this well-conceptualized anthology probes the body as a site of discipline, power, and resistance. In model introductory sections, Jessica Johnston not only clearly explicates postmodern theory without ignoring race, gender, or class differences, but also reveals the contested place of the body in contemporary American culture. Perfect for classroom use. (Eileen Boris, Hull Professor of Feminist Studies, University of California Santa Barbara)
The American Body in Context drives home the importance of ideas about the body, in what the body is as well as how it is perceived. This is a forceful contribution to contemporary and historical understandings, and it raises the question: Once we know about cultural determinations, what can or should we do about them? (Peter N. Stearns, George Mason University)
A powerful insight into American society from the standpoint of the body. The American Body in Context offers a comprehensive and compelling overview of recent literature on body and embodiment in modern culture. Jessica Johnston has assembled a glittering array of contributions to the literature on body and culture that provides a definitive statement of the field of inquiry in sociology and cultural studies. (Bryan S. Turner, University of Cambridge)
An exciting exploration of the important and disturbing issues that emerge when the American body is considered in its contemporary cultural and social contexts. A series of mind-bending essays is nicely balanced by Jessica Johnston's intelligent and insightful commentary. I highly recommend this provocative and engaging anthology. (John L. Caughey, University of Maryland, College Park)
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