English Professor in National Publication

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Photo of Susan Bordo
Susan Bordo

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In her 1993 book, “Unbearable Weight,” Bordo described the postmodern body as increasingly fed on “fantasies of re-arranging, transforming, and correcting limitless improvement and change, defying the historicity, the mortality, and, indeed the very materiality of the body. In place of that materiality, we now have cultural plastic.”

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (Jan. 21, 2004) -- A new preface to the 10th anniversary edition of her book, Unbearable Weight: Feminism, Western Culture and the Body, by Susan Bordo, University of Kentucky professor of English and women’s studies, was featured in the Dec. 19 issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education.

The article features excerpts from the new preface to the 10th-anniversary edition of the book, which will be published in January by the University of California Press.

Bordo will discuss this anniversary edition of her book in a talk at 6:45 p.m. Feb. 18 in the UK Hilary J. Boone Center. A dinner will precede the presentation. Tickets to the dinner are $16 and may be obtained by calling Betty Pasley at (859) 257-1388.

The title of the article is “The Empire of Images in Our World of Bodies.” In it, Bordo discusses the increasing pressure on our bodies to be “perfect,” her own reactions to aging, and how having a young daughter has affected the way she views our culture.

In her 1993 book, “Unbearable Weight,” Bordo described the postmodern body as increasingly fed on “fantasies of re-arranging, transforming, and correcting limitless improvement and change, defying the historicity, the mortality, and, indeed the very materiality of the body. In place of that materiality, we now have cultural plastic.”

In the new preface, Bordo points out that when she wrote the words of her book in 1993, the most recent statistics (from 1989) listed 681,00 surgical procedures performed. In 2001, she writes, 8.5 million procedures were performed.

“They (surgical procedures) are cheaper then ever, safer than ever, and increasingly used not for correcting major defects but for ‘contouring’ the face and body,” Bordo writes. In the Chronicle excerpt, Bordo also describes the increasing vulnerability of young people to insecurities about their bodies. Bordo has conducted research, written and lectured extensively about media images, eating problems and our culture of body “enhancement.”


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