Catalogue


Flesh wounds : the culture of cosmetic surgery /
Virginia L. Blum.
imprint
Berkeley : University of California Press, c2003.
description
x, 356 p. : ill.
ISBN
0520217233 (cloth : alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Berkeley : University of California Press, c2003.
isbn
0520217233 (cloth : alk. paper)
contents note
The patient's body -- Untouchable bodies -- The plastic surgeon and the patient: a slow dance -- Frankenstein gets a facelift -- As if beauty -- The monster and the movie star -- Being and having: celebrity culture and the wages of love -- Addicted to surgery.
catalogue key
5015102
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Excerpts
Flap Copy
"An impressive book. An important book."--Jamie Lee Curtis "I blame mirrors. If it weren't for them we wouldn't need plastic surgeons. In the meantime, anyone tempted to re-shape face, body and mind by means of knife should first read Blum's intelligent, persuasive and absorbing book. Both enticed and alarmed, the reader will at least know what she's doing and more importantly why. This is a book that takes you and shakes you by the throat, and leaves you the better for it."--Fay Weldon, author of The Life and Loves of a She-Devil "An eye-opening look at the dangers, both physical and emotional, of plastic surgery and of the power of beauty in all of our lives. Blum's book is an impressive interweaving of observation, oral interviews, cultural studies, and historical sources. An absorbing read, this is a scholarly book that general readers can enjoy."--Lois Banner, author of American Beauty "A provocative and thoroughly persuasive argument that we live in a culture of cosmetic surgery where identity is sited on the shifting surfaces of the body. Flesh Wounds brilliantly explores the link between the seductions of surgical self-fashioning and the star system, drawing on a stunning array of materials ranging from interviews with plastic surgeons, psychoanalytic theory, and the novel to the visual media of digital photography, film, and television."--Kathleen Woodward, author of Aging and Its Discontents: Freud and Other Fictions
Flap Copy
"An impressive book. An important book."--Jamie Lee Curtis "I blame mirrors. If it weren't for them we wouldn't need plastic surgeons. In the meantime, anyone tempted to re-shape face, body and mind by means of knife should first read Blum's intelligent, persuasive and absorbing book. Both enticed and alarmed, the reader will at least know what she's doing and more importantly why. This is a book that takes you and shakes you by the throat, and leaves you the better for it."--Fay Weldon, author ofThe Life and Loves of a She-Devil "An eye-opening look at the dangers, both physical and emotional, of plastic surgery and of the power of beauty in all of our lives. Blum's book is an impressive interweaving of observation, oral interviews, cultural studies, and historical sources. An absorbing read, this is a scholarly book that general readers can enjoy."--Lois Banner, author ofAmerican Beauty "A provocative and thoroughly persuasive argument that we live in a culture of cosmetic surgery where identity is sited on the shifting surfaces of the body.Flesh Woundsbrilliantly explores the link between the seductions of surgical self-fashioning and the star system, drawing on a stunning array of materials ranging from interviews with plastic surgeons, psychoanalytic theory, and the novel to the visual media of digital photography, film, and television."--Kathleen Woodward, author ofAging and Its Discontents: Freud and Other Fictions
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2004-04-01:
In this analysis of the cultural obsession with image and physical appearance, Blum (English, Univ. of Kentucky) draws on her interviews with 39 plastic surgeons and 11 patients, her observation of 7 surgeries, and her own experience with rhinoplasty. She explains body image disorder (dysmorphophobia) and internal versus external defects, and notes the availability of cosmetic surgery not only to the wealthy but to the middle class. Examples from novels (J.G. Ballard's Crash, 2001) and films (Frankenstein, The Talented Mr. Ripley, All about Eve, Ash Wednesday, The Mirror Has Two Faces) give depth to her study. She analyzes cosmetic advertisements that feature movie stars, tabloid newspaper reports, the use of airbrushed video imagery, violent computer games like Smack Pamela Anderson, and Web sites that post comments about the worst celebrity plastic surgery. She finishes with a chapter on the "plastic surgery junkie" and addiction. This scholarly book draws on a wide range of materials and real-life case studies. Black-and-white illustrations, detailed chapter notes, works cited, and an index are included, but a glossary of literary terminology would have been helpful. This book could be used to supplement women's studies, social philosophy, popular culture, communication studies, or literature courses. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. Upper-level undergraduates and above. E. R. Paterson SUNY College at Cortland
Appeared in Library Journal on 2003-08-01:
Why do we identify so strongly with celebrities? What role has this culture of celebrity played in creating a culture of cosmetic surgery? Blum (English, Univ. of Kentucky; Hide and Seek: The Child Between Psychoanalysis and Fiction) attempts to answer these and many other questions in this illuminating look at cultural obsessions with beauty and the "beautiful people." She supports her central argument-that the cultures of celebrity and cosmetic surgery constitute a mutually sustaining relationship-with interviews with cosmetic surgeons and patients and scholarship representing many academic disciplines. She also discusses such related topics as body dysmorphic disorder, the gender dynamics of surgeon-patient relationships, cosmetic surgery and ethnic assimilation, the increasing affordability of surgery, and surgical addiction. Frequent popular culture references, especially to films, greatly enhance these discussions. Blum maintains objectivity throughout, despite a skeptical attitude influenced in part by her own unsatisfactory surgical experience. This unique and sobering work is highly recommended for academic libraries serving a variety of disciplines, among them sociology, media studies, medicine, and literary and communications theory.-M.C. Duhig, Lib. Ctr. of Point Park Coll. & Carnegie Lib. of Pittsburgh (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2003-07-14:
When Blum was a teenager, her mother convinced her to have rhinoplastic surgery; since it might increase her daughter's marriage-market value, it seemed to her mother irresponsible not to. A botched job resulted in further corrections, Blum's incurable addiction to surgery-and this book. As an English professor at the University of Kentucky and admitted participant in the culture of perfective surgery, Blum manages the language of media theory and In Style magazine with equal aptitude. As face lifts and tummy tucks become increasingly affordable to middle-class Americans, Blum argues, even those who have never considered the knife cannot escape cosmetic surgery's implications and its pervasive promotion by everyone from doctors to those who play them on TV. Having interviewed numerous plastic surgeons, Blum shows how they promise to reveal one's "authentic" inner self by unmooring that self from its current physical expression. Blum suggests that our pursuit of a superior "after picture" arises from our identification with two-dimensional stars of page and screen: celebrity culture's mirror stage. But as surgeons promise to harmonize the patient's eternally youthful self-image with a traitorous aging body, they obfuscate the actual, unattainable object of desire: not one's own lost figure, but the image of the star (itself often surgically maintained). According to Blum, such confusions bring either repeated surgeries or aggression toward celebrity bodies (witness our tabloid fascination with stars' surgery, and Internet games like Smack Pamela Anderson). While Blum's claim that "little by little, we are all becoming movie stars-internally framed by the camera eye" might seem unduly cataclysmic, even "non-surgical" women may value her honest probing of the paradoxical sense that "I am my body and yet I own my body." 18 b&w photos not seen by PW. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Reviews
This item was reviewed in:
Publishers Weekly, July 2003
Library Journal, August 2003
Guardian UK, January 2004
Choice, April 2004
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Main Description
When did cosmetic surgery become a common practice, the stuff of everyday conversation? In a work that combines a provocative ethnography of plastic surgery and a penetrating analysis of beauty and feminism, Virginia L. Blum searches out the social conditions and imperatives that have made ours a culture of cosmetic surgery. From diverse viewpoints, ranging from cosmetic surgery patient to feminist cultural critic, she looks into the realities and fantasies that have made physical malleability an essential part of our modern-day identity. For a cultural practice to develop such a tenacious grip, Blum argues, it must be fed from multiple directions: some pragmatic, including the profit motive of surgeons and the increasing need to appear young on the job; some philosophical, such as the notion that a new body is something you can buy or that appearance changes your life. Flesh Wounds is an inquiry into the ideas and practices that have forged such a culture. Tying the boom in cosmetic surgery to a culture-wide trend toward celebrity, Blum explores our growing compulsion to emulate what remain for most of us two-dimensional icons. Moving between personal experiences and observations, interviews with patients and surgeons, and readings of literature and cultural moments, her book reveals the ways in which the practice of cosmetic surgery captures the condition of identity in contemporary culture.
Bowker Data Service Summary
In a work that combines an ethnography of plastic surgery and a penetrating analysis of beauty and feminism, Virginia L. Blum searches out the social conditions and imperatives that have made ours a culture of cosmetic surgery.
Unpaid Annotation
"An impressive book. An important book."--Jamie Lee Curtis"I blame mirrors. If it weren't for them we wouldn't need plastic surgeons. In the meantime, anyone tempted to re-shape face, body and mind by means of knife should first read Blum's intelligent, persuasive and absorbing book. Both enticed and alarmed, the reader will at least know what she's doing and more importantly why. This is a book that takes you and shakes you by the throat, and leaves you the better for it."--Fay Weldon, author of "The Life and Loves of a She-Devil"An eye-opening look at the dangers, both physical and emotional, of plastic surgery and of the power of beauty in all of our lives. Blum's book is an impressive interweaving of observation, oral interviews, cultural studies, and historical sources. An absorbing read, this is a scholarly book that general readers can enjoy."--Lois Banner, author of "American Beauty"A provocative and thoroughly persuasive argument that we live in a culture of cosmetic surgery where identity,is sited on the shifting surfaces of the body. "Flesh Wounds brilliantly explores the link between the seductions of surgical self-fashioning and the star system, drawing on a stunning array of materials ranging from interviews with plastic surgeons, psychoanalytic theory, and the novel to the visual media of digital photography, film, and television."--Kathleen Woodward, author of "Aging and Its Discontents: Freud and Other Fictions
Main Description
Drawing on personal materials alongside interviews and readings of literature and culture, this book considers the ways in which the practice of cosmetic surgery captures the conditions of identity in contemporary culture.
Long Description
When did cosmetic surgery become a common practice, the stuff of everyday conversation? In a work that combines a provocative ethnography of plastic surgery and a penetrating analysis of beauty and feminism, Virginia L. Blum searches out the social conditions and imperatives that have made ours a culture of cosmetic surgery. From diverse viewpoints, ranging from cosmetic surgery patient to feminist cultural critic, she looks into the realities and fantasies that have made physical malleability an essential part of our modern-day identity. For a cultural practice to develop such a tenacious grip, Blum argues, it must be fed from multiple directions: some pragmatic, including the profit motive of surgeons and the increasing need to appear young on the job; some philosophical, such as the notion that a new body is something you can buy or that appearance changes your life.Flesh Woundsis an inquiry into the ideas and practices that have forged such a culture. Tying the boom in cosmetic surgery to a culture-wide trend toward celebrity, Blum explores our growing compulsion to emulate what remain for most of us two-dimensional icons. Moving between personal experiences and observations, interviews with patients and surgeons, and readings of literature and cultural moments, her book reveals the ways in which the practice of cosmetic surgery captures the condition of identity in contemporary culture.
Main Description
When did cosmetic surgery become a common practice, the stuff of everyday conversation? In a work that combines a provocative ethnography of plastic surgery and a penetrating analysis of beauty and feminism, Virginia L. Blum searches out the social conditions and imperatives that have made ours a culture of cosmetic surgery. From diverse viewpoints, ranging from cosmetic surgery patient to feminist cultural critic, she looks into the realities and fantasies that have made physical malleability an essential part of our modern-day identity. For a cultural practice to develop such a tenacious grip, Blum argues, it must be fed from multiple directions: some pragmatic, including the profit motive of surgeons and the increasing need to appear young on the job; some philosophical, such as the notion that a new body is something you can buy or that appearance changes your life. "Flesh Wounds "is an inquiry into the ideas and practices that have forged such a culture. Tying the boom in cosmetic surgery to a culture-wide trend toward celebrity, Blum explores our growing compulsion to emulate what remain for most of us two-dimensional icons. Moving between personal experiences and observations, interviews with patients and surgeons, and readings of literature and cultural moments, her book reveals the ways in which the practice of cosmetic surgery captures the condition of identity in contemporary culture.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgments
The Patient's Body
Untouchable Bodies
The Plastic Surgeon and the Patient: A Slow Dance
Frankenstein Gets a Face-Lift
As If Beauty
The Monster and the Movie Star
Being and Having: Celebrity Culture and the Wages of Love
Addicted to Surgery
Notes Works Cited
Index
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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