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Title: The DESIRABLE BODY: Cultural Fetishism and the Erotics of Consumption
Author: Jon Stratton
Publisher: University of Illinois Press
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Now available for the first time in paperback, Jon Stratton's The Desirable Body lays a solid foundation for cultural and gender studies of the body by explicating the links, both historical and philosophical, between commodity culture and cultural fetishism.
Proceeding from the theories of Marx, Freud, and Lacan, Stratton delineates the structures of consumerism and desire that, since around 1850, have brought about the fetishization and spectacularization of the female (and more recently the male) body. Stratton ties spectacularization to the primacy of the visual, as evinced in grand expositions, photography, the cinema, and clandestine surveillance techniques. He examines the lolita complex--male desire for unsexed yet seductive adolescent females--in conjunction with a discussion of a historical tendency to attribute incestuous behavior to working-class (but not middle-class) fathers. He explores an enduring fascination with man-made women (both méchaniques and mannequins) in literature (Villiers de l'Isle-Adam's Tomorrow's Eve, E. T. A. Hoffmann's The Sandman) and film (The Stepford Wives, Mannequin). He also explores female patterns of consumption (from "shop till you drop" to anorexia) and, concomitant with a more public homosexuality, the fetishization of the male body (e.g., Arnold Schwarzenegger and ads for Calvin Klein underwear).
By focusing on the way bourgeois capitalism works to structure those who live within it, Stratton helps explain why destructive patterns of consumption and desire persist in our purportedly enlightened age.
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