Textual Bodies

Changing Boundaries of Literary Representation

Edited by Lori Hope Lefkovitz

Subjects: Religion
Series: SUNY series, The Body in Culture, History, and Religion
Paperback : 9780791431627, 292 pages, January 1997
Hardcover : 9780791431610, 292 pages, January 1997

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Table of contents


Introduction: Textual Bodies: Changing Boundaries of Literary Representation
Lori Hope Lefkovitz

1. Sappho's Body in Pieces
Page duBois

2. Aristotle, Gynecology, and the Body Sick with Desire
Robert Con Davis

3. Cross-Dressing in Medieval Romance
Roberta Davidson

4. Devotion and Defilement: The Blessed Virgin Mary and the Corporeal Hagiographics of Chaucer's Prioress's Tale
Richard Rambuss

5. The Somaticized Text: Corporeal Semiotic in a Late Medieval Female Hagiography
Sheila Delany

6. Shape-Shifting: Fashion, Gender, and Metamorphosis in Eighteenth-Century England
Deborah Laycock

7. Mind Over Matter: Sexuality and Where the "body happens to be" in the Alice Books
Donald Rackin

8. Oeuvres Intertwined:Walter Pater and Antoine Watteau
Gita Rajan

9. Florence Nightingale and the Negation of the Body
Miriam Bailin

10. Slapping Women: Ibsen's Nora, Strindberg's Julie, and Freud's Dora
Freddie Rokem

11. The "Mutilating Body" and the Decomposing Text: Recovery in Kathy Acker's Great Expectations
Martina Sciolino



Illustrates changing definitions of bodily limits, integrity, transgression, sexuality, and violation in the history of the Western canon.


In lively and accessible essays of literary criticism, this book approaches literature from classical times through the present with an emphasis on the place and treatment of the human body in the Western textual tradition. The work serves the double purpose of providing new, original, and provocative readings of familiar texts by applying the latest innovations in theory to specific works. Topics range from Sappho's fragments through cross-dressing in medieval romance to mutilation in Kathy Acker's Great Expectations. Together the essays illustrate changing definitions of bodily limits, integrity, transgression, sexuality, and violation in the history of the Western canon.

Lori Hope Lefkovitz is on the faculty of Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


"This is an intriguing topic, certainly in both theoretical and socio-political fields, where we are redefining the limits and possibilities of the body (reproductive rights and technologies, health and physical fitness claims, AIDS and human sexuality) on a daily basis. I found I was most interested in the new historical approaches to body politics. " — Denise Witzig, St. Mary's College

"The most interesting features of this collection are its range across historical periods, the breadth of its chronological span, and the quality of the individual essays. " — Joan Dagle, Rhode Island College