'(A) consistently interesting and provocative work, which offers a great deal in seven chapters. It marks an innovative interdisciplinary approach to questions of embodiment and subjectivity' - Disability and Society 'This is an elegantly written book which has, as its main aim, to rethink the idea of difference in the western imaginary through a consideration of two themes: monsters and how these have come to define, but potentially to deconstruct, normality; and the whole idea of vulnerability and the vulnerable and the extent to which such a state is one that all of us are constantly in danger of entering … The theoretical and philosophical content - Derrida, Lacan, Foucault, Irrigaray, Butler, Levinas, and Haraway in particular - together with the range of empirical examples used to illustrate the arguments, make the book an ideal one for third level undergraduates and for post-graduates, particularly those studying the sociology of embodiment, feminist theory, critical theory and cultural studies. Shildrick accomplishes the task of making difficult ideas comprehensible without reducing them to the simplistic' - Sociology Written by one of the most distinguished commentators in the field, this book asks why we see some bodies as `monstrous' or `vulnerable' and examines what this tells us about ideas of bodily `normality' and bodily perfection. Drawing on feminist theories of the body, biomedical discourse and historical data, Margrit Shildrick argues that the response to the monstrous body has always been ambivalent. In trying to organize it out of the discourses of normality, we point to the impossibility of realizing a fully developed, invulnerable self. She calls upon us to rethink the monstrous, not as an abnormal category, but as a condition of attractivenes, and demonstrates how this involves an exploration of relationships between bodies and embodied selves, and a revising of the phenomenology of the body.
Welcoming the Monstrous: Arrivant
Throughout my project to reclaim the notion of vulnerability and its relation to the embodiment of difference, I have, by and large, concurred with the assaults made on humanism by recent continental philosophy, and by postmodernist cultural studies. The radical critique of humanist certainties is never without its risks, however, and the anxious and nostalgic question of what is to replace, what can replace, the securely embodied and autonomous subject has become increasingly insistent. Is there, after all, some way that anti-humanism, and the vertigo of the deconstructive abyss, might be averted not only by reconstituting value, but by reinstating the centrality of the human? To the extent that my own project is an ethical one, the question ...