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The Vagina: A Literary and Cultural History Paperback – 12 Feb 2015

4.4 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Bloombury; Reprint edition (12 Feb. 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1628922125
  • ISBN-13: 978-1628922127
  • Product Dimensions: 15.7 x 2.9 x 23.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 88,104 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


Rees' book is the kind of work we need more of if we are to challenge and reconfigure how we understand women and sexuality in contemporary discourse. - Shahidha Bari, Queen Mary, University of London, UK, Times Higher Education

For readers disappointed by Naomi Wolf's treatise on a similar topic last year, this is the book you've been waiting for... This may not be the definitive text on the vagina Rees is clear that she can't overturn centuries of embarrassment and taboo in a single book - but it's an excellent place to start. - Kaite Welsh, The Independent on Sunday

It is my contention that you will know quite instinctively if you are the target reader for a book describing itself as a literary and cultural history of vaginas. (Vaginae? Vaginodes?) How does this description of Judy Chicago's art make you feel? 'Each plate, a vulvar motif at its centre, represents a woman's yearning for autonomy and recognition away from patriarchy's eradications and constraints.' If you found that intriguing, rather than snigger-worthy or arcanely academic, you will enjoy what's on offer here. There is a learned digression on other words for vagina... and a survey of depictions of female genitalia in folk tales, film, literature, art and television... The examples are well chosen and engaging. - Helen Lewis, New Statesman

The broadest survey yet... lively, thought-provoking, and richly researched. - --Naomi Wolf, author of Vagina: A New Biography

At last! A book on the vagina that I feel privileged to endorse. This careful literary and cultural history explores the vagina primarily as a loaded cultural symbol. It critiques the numerous ways in which the female sexual organs have had deleterious meanings projected onto them by patriarchal society. A magnificent achievement, Rees's study is as insightful in its analysis as it is comprehensive in its historical coverage. - Lisa Downing, Professor of French Discourses of Sexuality, University of Birmingham, UK.

This really wonderful book on the cultural history of the vagina is scholarly and accessible, entertaining and serious. It is stylish and packed with insight; it will be seized upon and devoured by the new feminists. The Vagina bejazzles. I highly recommend it. - Sally R Munt, Professor of Cultural and Gender Studies, University of Sussex

With Vagina, Rees is aiming for something well beyond 'feminism.' To get there, she uses humor, numerous examples, and careful explanation as she moves effortlessly through a variety of historical periods and a wide genre of art to demonstrate her point. - Judy A. Hayden, Professor of English and Writing and Director of the Women's Studies Program, University of Tampa, USA.

Analyses of representations of the vagina in art and culture couple with feminist politics in this impassioned tract by University of Chester lecturer Rees. - --Publisher's Weekly

Rees is especially strong on the rapidly evolving (and more in-your-face) artistic (or would-be artistic) representation of the [vagina] in contemporary (Western, and even here basically American and British) culture, both fringe and more mainstream... Rees offers many interesting examples and the odd tidbit[s] (Courbet's L'origine du monde comes from the collection of psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan!), and though she works more by example than evaluation, there's a lot of useful information here. - M.A. Ortherfer, The Complete Review

Don't be fooled by the playful pink cover-this book is not for the faint of heart. Ranging from Indian folktales of vagina dentata to the surprising popularity of vaginas in postmodern art, Rees' book is a whirlwind tour of the literary and cultural history of the treatment (and mistreatment) of female genitalia. - --Rebecca Hayes, Booklist

About the Author

Emma L.E. Rees is Senior Lecturer in the Department of English at the University of Chester, UK.

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