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Most human bodies have two arms, two legs, hands, feet, a head. Yet the body, as we perceive it, is ultimately a cultural construct defined by the values and meanings each individual, and each culture, ascribes to it. Beyond its corporeal realities, the implications of the body-how we adorn, alter, heal, and please it-are potentially endless, limited only by the manner in which we frame it.
Revealing how the human body has served as as metaphor for social process, the anthology unveils the body as intrinsically configured by politics, gender, racial categories, fears of pollution, and commercial forces which exploit and regulate it. Historical snapshots of American bodies over the past two and a half centuries, the essays in this volume cover such diverse subjects as sailor tattoos, maritime cannibalism in the early 1800's, birth control, rest cures for neurasthenia, and, more recently, anorexia, boxing, cyberpunk, and plastic surgery. Drawing from history, literary and cultural studies, and film studies, American bodies is an eclectic, stimulating collection that will challenge many fundamental beliefs about our physical form.