A Full-bodied Society

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Logie Barrow, François Poirier
Cambridge Scholars, 2010 - Social Science - 142 pages
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The human body is always changing its meanings. Historical research on this can draw on a host of specialisms. Historians, lettrists and linguists contribute to this book a coherent little tumult of perspectives: what was thinkable for pagan and Christian Anglo-Saxons, and how far did the two really differ? Why did New English Puritans stop addressing God as if He were their breast-feeding Mother? How did Western colonisers perspectives on animals and on subject races interact? How did Victorian and Edwardian womens participation in sports grow? How transgressive was the figure of the dandy? What motivated late-Victorian panics over prostitution, and on what terms were victims helped? Why, in an increasingly democratic age, did reactions to Britain's first universal health-measure become a basis for cynicism about the masses?

Repeatedly, the rigidity of separation between male and female fluctuated, as did the boundaries themselves. Sometimes, the greater the rigidity, the less the sources may tell us of resistance to them. But sometimes this can be inferred indirectly.

Better testimony than this volume to the liveliness and variety of body-studies is hard to imagine.

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in Puritan New England
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About the author (2010)

Logie Barrow taught British Isles, slavery and S. African history at Bremen University, where he is still based, between 1980-2008. His publications include Independent Spirits, Spiritualism and English Plebeians, 1850-1910 (1986, Routledge) and, jointly with Ian Bullock, Democratic Ideas and the British Labour Movement 1880-1914 (1996, Cambridge University Press). His main historical focus is on the social ascription of stupidity. Francois Poirier was, from 1993 until his passing in March 2010, Professor of British Studies at the University of Paris 13, where for eleven years he directed the Centre for the Study of Intercultural Relations in English and French-speaking Countries (CRIDAF). He was author of an extremely wide range of publications, on subjects including Thatcherism and William Morris. He last worked on inter-perceptions between British and French scholars of each other's countries.

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