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Bodies out of Bounds

Fatness and Transgression

Jana Evans Braziel (Editor), Kathleen LeBesco (Editor)

Available worldwide

Paperback, 368 pages
ISBN: 9780520225855
September 2001
$31.95, £27.00
Since World War II, when the diet and fitness industries promoted mass obsession with weight and body shape, fat has been a dirty word. In the United States, fat is seen as repulsive, funny, ugly, unclean, obscene, and above all as something to lose. Bodies Out of Bounds challenges these dominant perceptions by examining social representations of the fat body. The contributors to this collection show that what counts as fat and how it is valued are far from universal; the variety of meanings attributed to body size in other times and places demonstrates that perceptions of corpulence are infused with cultural, historical, political, and economic biases. The exceptionally rich and engaging essays collected in this volume question discursive constructions of fatness while analyzing the politics and power of corpulence and addressing the absence of fat people in media representations of the body.

The essays are widely interdisciplinary; they explore their subject with insight, originality, and humor. The contributors examine the intersections of fat with ethnicity, race, queerness, class, and minority cultures, as well as with historical variations in the signification of fat. They also consider ways in which "objective" medical and psychological discourses about fat people and food hide larger agendas. By illustrating how fat is a malleable construct that can be used to serve dominant economic and cultural interests, Bodies Out of Bounds stakes new claims for those whose body size does not adhere to society's confining standards.
List of Illustrations
Editors' Introduction: Bodies Out of Bounds
Kathleen LeBesco and Jana Evans Braziel

PART ONE: Revaluing Corpulence, Redefining Fat Subjectivities
1. "Fat Beauty," by Richard Klein
2. "A 'Horror of Corpulence': Interrogating Bantingism and Mid-Nineteenth-Century Fat-Phobia," by Joyce L. Huff
3. "Letting Ourselves Go: Making Room for the Fat Body in Feminist Scholarship," by Cecilia Hartley
4. "Queering Fat Bodies/Politics," by Kathleen LeBesco

PART TWO: Representational Matrices of Power: Nationality, Gender, Sexuality, and Fatness
5. "Oscar Zeta Acosta's Autobiography of a Brown Buffalo: A Fat Man's Recipe for Chicano Revolution," by Marcia Chamberlain
6. "Resisting Venus: Negotiating Corpulence in Exercise Videos," by Antonia Losano and Brenda A. Risch
7. "Fighting Abjection: Representing Fat Women," by Leía Kent

PART THREE: Fat Perversities? Reconstructing Corpulent Sexualities
8. "Roscoe Arbuckle and the Scandal of Fatness," by Neda Ulaby
9. "Setting Free the Bears: Refiguring Fat Men on Television," by Jerry Mosher

PART FOUR: Deconstructing the Carnivalesque, Grotesque, and Other Configurations of Corpulence
10. "'It's not over until the fat lady sings': Comedy, the Carnivalesque, and Body Politics," by Angela Stukator
11. "Devouring Women: Corporeality and Autonomy in Fiction by Women Since the 1960s," by Sarah Shieff
12. "Sex and Fat Chics: Deterritorializing the Fat Female Body," by Jana Evans Braziel

PART FIVE: Bodies in Motion: Corpulence and Performativity
13. "'She's so fat': Facing the Fat Lady at Coney Island's Sideshows by the Seashore," by Sharon Mazer
14. "Fatties on Stage: Feminist Performances," by Petra Kuppers
15. "Divinity: A Dossier, a Performance Piece, a Little-Understood Emotion," by Michael Moon and Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick

Jana Evans Braziel is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse. Kathleen LeBesco is Assistant Professor in the Communication Arts Department at Marymount Manhattan College.
"This is an exceptional collection—the subject is of obvious importance, yet terribly undertheorized and unexamined. I know of no other work that offers what this collection provides."—Marcia Millman, author of Such a Pretty Face: Being Fat in America

". . . A valuable contribution to scholarly debates on the place of excessive bodies in contemporary culture. This book promises to enrich all areas of inquiry related to the politics of bodies."—Carole Spitzack, author of Confessing Excess: Women and the Politics of Body Reduction

"This anthology includes a wide range of perceptive and original essays, which explore and analyze the underlying ideologies that have made fat "incorrect." Echoing the spirit of the nineteenth-century adage about children who should be neither seen nor heard, some of the authors powerfully remind us that we keep "bodies out of bound" silenced and unseen-unless, of course, we need to peek at the comic or grotesque."—Raquel Salgado Scherr, co-author of Face Value: The Politics of Beauty

"Through textual analyses, video/film analyses, television theory, and literary theory, this collection demonstrates the various ways in which dominant representations of fat and corpulence have been both demonized and rendered invisible. . . . This volume will be a crucial corollary to work on the tyranny of slenderness; a collection of different perspectives on the fat body is sorely missing in women's studies, communication, and media studies."—Sarah Banet-Weiser, author of The Most Beautiful Girl in the World: Beauty Pageants and National Identity

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