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- DescriptionOnly skin deep, getting under one's skin, the naked truth : metaphors about the skin pervade the language even as physical embellishments and alterations-tattoos, piercings, skin-lifts, liposuction, tanning, and more-proliferate in Western culture. Yet outside dermatology textbooks, the topic of skin has been largely igred. This important cultural study shows how our perception of skin has changed from the eighteenth century to the present. Claudia Benthien argues that despite medicine's having penetrated the bodily surface and exposed the interior of the body as never before, skin, paradoxically, has become a more and more unyielding symbol. She examines the changing significance of skin through brilliant analyses of literature, art, philosophy, and anatomical drawings and writings. Benthien discusses the semantic and psychic aspects of touching, feeling, and intellectual perception; the motifs of perforated, armored, or transparent skin; the phantasma of flaying; and much more through close readings of such authors as Kleist, Hawthorne, Balzac, Rilke, Kafka, Plath, Morrison, Wideman, and Ondaatje. Myriad images from the Renaissance, anatomy books, and contemporary visual and performance art enhance the text.
- Author BiographyClaudia Benthien is assistant professor of German at Humboldt-University, Berlin. She received the Tiburtius Prize from the Berlin senate for this work.
- Author(s)Claudia Benthien
- PublisherColumbia University Press
- Date of Publication27/08/2002
- SubjectCultural Studies
- Series TitleEuropean Perspectives: A Series in Social Thought and Cultural Criticism
- Place of PublicationNew York
- Country of PublicationUnited States
- ImprintColumbia University Press
- Content Note41 illus.
- Weight544 g
- Width160 mm
- Height237 mm
- Spine19 mm
- Translated byThomas Dunlop,Thomas Dunlap
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