Dedication to Hunger: The Anorexic Aesthetic in Modern Culture (Hardcover)
Writing as a competitive athlete, an academic, and a woman, Leslie Heywood merges personal history and scholarship to expose the "anorexic logic" that underlies Western high culture. She maneuvers deftly across the terrain of modern literature, illustrating how this logic—the privileging of mind over body, of hard over soft, of masculine over feminine—is at the heart of the modernist style. Her argument ranges from Plato to women's bodybuilding, from Franz Kafka to Nike ads. In penetrating examinations of Kafka, Pound, Eliot, William Carlos Williams, and Conrad, Heywood demonstrates how the anorexic aesthetic is embodied in high modernism. In a compelling chapter on Jean Rhys, Heywood portrays an author who struggles to develop a clean, spare, "anorexic" style in the midst of a shatteringly messy emotional life. As Heywood points out, students are trained in the aesthetic of high modernism, and academics are pressured into its straitjacket. The resulting complications are reflected in structures as diverse as gender identity formation, sexual harassment, and eating disorders. Direct, engaging, and intensely informed by the author's personal involvement with her subject, Dedication to Hunger offers a powerful challenge to cultural assumptions about language, gender, subjectivity, and identity. This title is part of UC Press's Voices Revived program, which commemorates University of California Press's mission to seek out and cultivate the brightest minds and give them voice, reach, and impact. Drawing on a backlist dating to 1893, Voices Revived makes high-quality, peer-reviewed scholarship accessible once again using print-on-demand technology. This title was originally published in 1996.
Leslie Heywood is Professor of English and Creative Writing at SUNY-Binghamton