A Cultural Anatomy

Ruth Barcan


6 x 9 inches, xi + 308 pp. 2006

ISBN : 9788170462835

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Images of nudity are everywhere. Advertising uses nudity to sell everything from housing loans to appliances, perfume to cars. Aside from being big business, nudity is a legal and moral minefield, the object of psychological study, and a mundane fact of everyday life. We alternately think of it as a perversion and a state of absolute innocence. Why does nudity mean so many contradictory things, and why is it treated so differently in different contexts? Drawing on a wealth of examples from popular culture, literature, philosophy and religion, as well as first-hand interviews, nudity: a cultural anatomy goes deep into the naked underworld to answer these questions. Barcan encounters morticians, nudists, strippers, nurses, tattooists, artists and makers of pornography. She demonstrates that ordinary people, popular culture and high philosophy are all sources of wisdom about the naked body. From pubic hair fashions through to a royal ‘full monty’, this volume is a fascinating blend of meaningful minutiae and big philosophical questions about the most unnatural state of nature in the modern west. 

Ruth Barcan teaches in the Department of Gender Studies at the University of Sydney, Australia. She is one of the editors of Planet Diana: Cultural Studies and Global Mourning and a co-editor of Imaging Australian Space: Cultural Studies and Spatial Inquiry. She is the author of numerous essays on the body, nudity and nudism, popular culture and pedagogy. This volume draws on research carried out while she was a Senior Lecturer in Humantities at the University of Western Sydney, Australia.


Culture Studies