Embodying the Monster
Encounters with the Vulnerable Self
- Margrit Shildrick - Queen's University Belfast, UK
Feminist Theory | Sociology of the Body
'This is an elegantly written book which has, as its main aim, to rethink the idea of difference in the western imaginary through a consideration of two themes: monsters and how these have come to define, but potentially to deconstruct, normality; and the whole idea of vulnerability and the vulnerable and the extent to which such a state is one that all of us are constantly in danger of entering … The theoretical and philosophical content - Derrida, Lacan, Foucault, Irrigaray, Butler, Levinas, and Haraway in particular - together with the range of empirical examples used to illustrate the arguments, make the book an ideal one for third level undergraduates and for post-graduates, particularly those studying the sociology of embodiment, feminist theory, critical theory and cultural studies. Shildrick accomplishes the task of making difficult ideas comprehensible without reducing them to the simplistic' - Sociology
Written by one of the most distinguished commentators in the field, this book asks why we see some bodies as `monstrous' or `vulnerable' and examines what this tells us about ideas of bodily `normality' and bodily perfection.
Drawing on feminist theories of the body, biomedical discourse and historical data, Margrit Shildrick argues that the response to the monstrous body has always been ambivalent. In trying to organize it out of the discourses of normality, we point to the impossibility of realizing a fully developed, invulnerable self. She calls upon us to rethink the monstrous, not as an abnormal category, but as a condition of attractivenes, and demonstrates how this involves an exploration of relationships between bodies and embodied selves, and a revising of the phenomenology of the body.
`Shildrick's study stands out among postmodern analyses of the body by refusing to abandon the fleshiness of cultural life. The scope of this book is impressive and its analysis of "monstrous corporeality" and "vulnerability" as an inalienable counterpart of what it is to be human culminates in a posthumanis ethics of and for the body that will be the subject of debate among body theorists, feminists and cultural analysts' - Chris Shilling, University of Portsmouth
"Excellent text; informative endnotes. Recommended for upper-division undergraduates through professionals."