We are pleased to offer for review ‘The Body and Shame: Phenomenology, Feminism, and the Socially Shaped Body‘ (Rowman & Littlefield, 2015) by the Centre’s very own Dr Luna Dolezal. Expressions of interest are welcome from across the medical humanities.
‘The Body and Shame: Phenomenology, Feminism, and the Socially Shaped Body investigates the concept of body shame and explores its significance when considering philosophical accounts of embodied subjectivity, especially aiming to provide phenomenological reflections on how the body is shaped by social forces. Body shame only finds its full articulation in the presence (actual or imagined) of others within a rule and norm governed milieu. As such, it bridges our personal, individual and embodied experience with the social, cultural and political world that contains us. Hence, this work argues that understanding body shame can shed light on how the social is embodied, that is how the body—experienced in its phenomenological primacy by the subject—becomes a social and cultural artifact, shaped by external forces and demands.
The Body and Shame provides an introduction to leading twentieth-century phenomenolgical and sociological accounts of embodied subjectivity through the work of Edmund Husserl, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Jean-Paul Sartre, Michel Foucault and Norbert Elias. In doing so, various features of embodied experience are outlined and the social and political features of body shame are examined. It will be contended that body shame is both a necessary and constitutive part of embodied subjectivity while simultaneously a potential site of oppression and marginalization. Exploring the cultural politics of shame, the final chapters of this work explore the phenomenology of self-presentation and a feminist analysis of shame and gender, with a critical focus on the practice of cosmetic surgery, a site where the body is literally shaped by shame’.
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