Bodies at Risk

Unsafe Limits in Romanticism and Postmodernism

By Robert Burns Neveldine

Subjects: Lesbian / Gay Studies
Series: SUNY series in Postmodern Culture
Paperback : 9780791436509, 208 pages, January 1998
Hardcover : 9780791436493, 208 pages, January 1998

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Table of contents



Overture The Limits of Bodies at Risk

Part I Romantic Assemblages

Prelude I Wordsworth, Godwin, and the Shelleys

Chapter One Wordsworth's "Nutting" and the Violent End of Reading

Chapter Two Romantic Fiction Double Feature: Caleb Williams, The Homotextual Adventure Begins , and Frankenstein Meets Pygmalion

Part II Postmodern Virtualities

Prelude II French Theorists, Minimalism, AIDS

Chapter Three On Lacan, Foucault, and Deleuze and Guattari

Chapter Four Music into the Body: Philip Glass and Others

Chapter Five Skeletons in the Closet: Paradox, Resistance, and the Undead Body of the PWA

Epilogue The Virtual Body of Aesthetics


Works Cited


Taking a post-psychoanalytic, queer-theoretical approach, this book links philosophical and aesthetic issues in two distinct periods through the examination of a variety of imaginative texts, from canonical poetry and fiction to avant-garde music and film.


Taking a fundamentally post-psychoanalytical approach, Bodies at Risk links philosophical and aesthetic issues in two distinct periods, with postmodernism continuing and amplifying the central concerns of Romanticism, including subject formation, the disruptive effects of the human body, and the unique forms of textuality they enable through risky personal and artistic conflicts. Neveldine investigates how the body, designated as queer or otherwise, has placed itself at risk, such that it has questioned dominant notions of what it is to be a human subject in Western society, roughly since the time of the Romantics. Neveldine also explores how certain kinds of artistic conflicts have played themselves out in various texts in the Romantic period and postmodernism and what these conflicts have produced, both corporeally and textually.

From Wordsworth's poem "Nutting" to Gregg Araki's film The Living End, from the Marquis de Sade's prose to the autobiographical fiction of Thomas Bernhard, the artifact radically interrogates our notions of textuality, setting aside forever its status as a mere imitation or representation, and becomes a testimony to the body's ability to resist oppression and create new types of human being.

Robert Burns Neveldine earned his Ph.D. at the University of Washington, where he completed Bodies at Risk and taught as an instructor. He is currently at work on a book about Kurt Cobain, Lee Harvey Oswald, Alan Turing, and Gustav Mahler, as well as a long novel entitled Monster Zero.


"Bodies at Risk is exhilarating; it negotiates among texts and theoretical positions with a dexterity and sophistication that is both illuminating and refreshing. There are any number of books now on the market that address the nature and politics of postmodernism, and I don't think we really need another. But then Neveldine's book is not just another—there is, to my knowledge, nothing quite like it. Bodies at Risk is something of a genre unto itself." — Paul Morrison, Brandeis University

This is an eccentric book (in the best sense of the term): it is highly personal and idiosyncratic, yet it speaks to a common queer-theoretical pursuit." — Eric Savoy, University of Calgary