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Eva IllouzHard-Core Romance: Fifty Shades of Grey, Best-Sellers, and Society

University of Chicago Press, 2014

by Lilian Calles Barger on April 27, 2015

Eva Illouz

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Eva Illouz is professor of sociology at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and president of the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Sciences. Her book Hard-Core Romance: Fifty Shades of Grey, Best Sellers, and Society (University of Chicago Press, 2014), provides a feminist-sociological analysis of the soft pornographic novel Fifty Shades of Grey. The book, and its two sequels written by E.L. James, began as fan fiction and subsequently reached record-breaking sales as an e-book. With two central characters, a sexual ingénue and a powerful enigmatic anti-hero, the novel is poorly written and formulaic, yet managed to capture the imagination of millions of women. Illouz tells us how the novel was the perfect combination of fantasy and self-help delivered to an audience increasingly confuse and uncertain in negotiating their heterosexual relationships. With its sadomasochistic sex and images of female submission and male dominance, Fifty Shades of Grey, is a gothic romance adapted to modern sexual dilemmas and emotional confusion. Combining the romantic fantasy and self-help genres, it acts a catalyst for renegotiating heterosexual relationships. By placing the novel within the history of the commodification of the book, the dynamics of the sexual marketplace, and the sociology of sexuality, Illouz locates Fifty Shades of Grey in the contemporary context. The reader of Hard-Core Romance will find an intriguing argument for why after feminism and the sexual revolution dominance and submission, resistance and surrender, remain as enigmas of modern relationships.

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Torild SkardWomen of Power: Half a Century of Female Presidents and Prime Ministers Worldwide

April 26, 2015

Torild Skard is the author of Women of Power: Half a Century of Female Presidents and Prime Ministers Worldwide (Policy Press, 2015). Skard is a senior researcher in women's studies at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs in Oslo and is a former member of parliament and the first woman president of the Norwegian Upper […]

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Melissa DabakisA Sisterhood of Sculptors: American Artists in Nineteenth-Century Rome

April 20, 2015

In A Sisterhood of Sculptors: American Artists in Nineteenth-Century Rome (Penn State University Press, 2014), Melissa Dabakis takes readers on an unexpected journey from Boston to Rome to discover multiple American women sculptors working in studios, winning public commissions, and earning artistic renown in the mid-19th Century. The book navigates through the worlds of sculpture, feminism, […]

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Carol FaulknerLucretia Mott’s Heresy: Abolition and Women’s Rights in Nineteenth-Century America

April 13, 2015

Carol Faulkner is Professor of History at Syracuse University. Her book Lucretia Mott’s Heresy: Abolition and Women’s Rights in Nineteenth-Century America (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011) is a beautifully written biography of the abolitionist and Quaker Lucretia Mott. Committed to liberty and equality based on the divine light within, Mott was one the earliest American […]

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Leigh Ann WheelerHow Sex Became a Civil Liberty

April 6, 2015

Leigh Ann Wheeler is professor of history at Binghamton University. Her book How Sex Became a Civil Liberty (Oxford University Press, 2013), examines the role of the American Civil Liberties Union in establishing sexual rights as grounded in the U.S. constitution. Wheeler begins in the bohemian New York with the personal biographies of individuals who […]

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Natalia Mehlman PetrzelaClassroom Wars: Language, Sex, and the Making of Modern Political Culture

March 26, 2015

The intersection between Spanish-bilingual education and sex education might not be immediately apparent. Yet, as Natalia Mehlman Petrzela shows in her new book, Classroom Wars: Language, Sex, and the Making of Modern Political Culture (Oxford University Press, 2015), the meeting between these two paradigms of education firmly connects in California during the 1960s and 70s. […]

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Dorothy Sue Cobble, Linda Gordon, and Astrid HenryFeminism Unfinished: A Short, Surprising History of American Women’s Movements

March 21, 2015

Our guest today, Linda Gordon, is professor of history and humanities as New York University. Gordon and her co-authors Dorothy Sue Cobble and Astrid Henry have written Feminism Unfinished: A Short, Surprising History of American Women’s Movements (Liveright, 2014). The book documents the women’s movement since the winning of the franchise in 1920. Its aim is to recapture feminism as […]

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Michelle NickersonMothers of Conservatism: Women and the Postwar Right

March 18, 2015

Recently, historians have shown that the modern conservative movement is older and more complex than has often been assumed by either liberals or historians. Michelle Nickerson’s book, Mothers of Conservatism: Women and the Postwar Right (Princeton University Press, 2012) expands that literature even further, demonstrating not only the longer roots of conservative interest in family issues, […]

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Helena GurfinkelOutlaw Fathers in Victorian and Modern British Literature: Queering Patriarchy

March 16, 2015

What is a father? In Outlaw Fathers in Victorian and Modern British Literature: Queering Patriarchy (Fairleigh Dickinson UP, 2014), Helena Gurfinkel offers an insightful new vision of fatherhood through an engagement with English literature, Freudian psychoanalysis and queer theory. The book takes a range of authors who have depicted ideas of fatherhood, patriarchal relations and homosociality along with […]

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Donna J. DruckerThe Classification of Sex: Alfred Kinsey and the Organization of Knowledge

March 10, 2015

Donna J. Drucker is a guest professor at Darmstadt Technical University in Germany. Her book The Classification of Sex: Alfred Kinsey and the Organization of Knowledge (University of Pittsburg Press, 2014) is an in-depth and detailed study of Kinsey’s scientific approach. The book examines his career and method of gathering vast amounts of data, identifying […]

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