Susan Bordo

  • Otis A. Singletary Chair in the Humanities
  • Gender & Women's Studies
111 Breckinridge Hall
(859)-257-1895
Research Interests:
Education

Ph.D., State University of New York, Stony Brook

Biography

 

Susan Bordo is Professor of Gender and Women's Studies and holds the Otis A. Singletary Chair in the Humanities at the University of Kentucky. She is the author of The Flight to Objectivity: Essays on Cartesianism and Culture (SUNY Press, 1987), Unbearable Weight: Feminism, Western Culture, and the Body (U. of California Press, 1993), Twilight Zones: The Hidden Life of Cultural Images from Plato to O.J. (U. of California Press, 1997) and The Male Body: A New Look at Men in Public and in Private (Farrar, Straus and Giroux,1999) and The Creation of Anne Boleyn: A New Look at England’s Most Notorious Queen (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.) She is also editor of Feminist Interpretations of Descartes (Penn State Press,1999) and co-editor (with Alison Jaggar) of Gender/Body/Knowledge: Feminist Reconstructions of Being and Knowing (Rutgers University Press, 1989) and Provocations: A Transnational Reader in the History of Feminist Thought (with Ellen Rosenman and Cristina Alcalde) University of California Press, 2015.

Bordo is known for the clarity, accessibility, and contemporary relevance of her writing. Her work has been translated into many languages, and individual chapters, many of which are considered paradigms of lucid writing, are frequently re-printed in collections and writing textbooks. The Flight to Objectivity is considered a classic of feminist philosophy. Unbearable Weight, a University of California Press best seller and the first book to draw attention to the profound role of cultural images in the spread of eating problems across race and class, is widely cited, anthologized and used in courses throughout the disciplines. Named a Notable Book of 1993 by the New York Times, it was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and received a Distinguished Publication Award from the Association for Women In Psychology. Columnist Katha Pollitt named it one of the five best books in Gender and Women's Studies of 1993.  The Male Body: A New Look at Men in Public and in Private (1999,) one of the first in the then-emerging field of masculinity studies, was featured in Mademoiselle, Elle, Vanity Fair, NPR, and MSNBC, and has been hailed by men as one of the most sympathetic feminist accounts of their insecurities. Her most recent books are The Creation of Anne Boleyn (available in US and UK editions, as well as a best-selling audiobook) and the just-released co-edited collection Provocations. She has many young fans who email her about the positive effect her books have had on their lives. 

The Creation of Anne Boleyn: A New Look at England’s Most Notorious Queen, was published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in April 2013 to widespread critical acclaim. In it, Bordo draws on historical scholarship and cultural studies to probe the complexities and challenge the mythology surrounding Anne Boleyn’s life and afterlife, exploring how generations of polemicists, biographers, novelists, and filmmakers imagined and re-imagined Anne: whore, martyr, cautionary tale, proto "mean girl," feminist icon, and everything in between. The UK edition was published in January 2014.

Susan Bordo lives in Lexington, Kentucky with her husband Edward Lee, daughter Cassie, dogs Sean, Dakota, and Piper, Rocco the cat, and cockatiels Avery and Pearl.

For reviews of The Creation of Anne Boleyn, see:

http://susanbordopress.wordpress.com/2013/02/27/and-the-reviews-are-coming-in/.

 

Critical Praise for Unbearable Weight:

  • “A classic of feminist theory.” The New York Times
  • "Unbearable Weight is brilliant. From an immensely knowledgeable feminist perspective, in engaging, jargonless (!) prose, Bordo analyzes a whole range of issues connected to the body—weight and weight loss, exercise, media images, movies, advertising, anorexia and bulimia, and much more—in a way that makes sense of current social landscape—finally! This is a great book for anyone who wonders why women’s magazines are always describing delicious food as ‘sinful’ and why there is a cake called Death by Chocolate. Loved it!”
    -- Katha Pollitt, Nation columnist and author of Subject to Debate: Sense and Dissents on Women, Politics, and Culture (2001)
  • “This is a terrific book!”
    -- Nancy J. Chodorow, author of The Power of Feelings: Personal Meaning in Psychoanalysis, Gender, and Culture (2001)
  • “Susan Bordo’s Unbearable Weight is a masterpiece of complex an nuanced thinking not only about a significant problem that faces women but about our culture. A very valuable book.”
    -- Susan Griffin, author of The Book of the Courtesans: A Catalogue of Their Virtues (2001)
  • “To read Susan Bordo is to take a wild ride through the cultural images that form our daily lives, and to see them with a startling X-ray vision that reveals their blood and guts and bones, a vision that reveals us, finally, to ourselves.”
    -- Leslie Heywood, author of Pretty Good for A Girl (1999)

Praise for the First Edition:

  • A New York Times Notable Book of the Year 1993
  • Association for Women in Psychology Distinguished Publication Award, 1994
  • “This excellent study links the fear of women’s fat with a fear of women’s power and shows that as opportunities for women increase, their bodies dwindle.”
    -- New York Times Book Review
  • “Original, stimulating, and witty.”
    -- San Francisco Chronicle Book Review

Critical Praise for The Male Body:

  • "Provocative, unexpected and winning....remarkable, and not just because it is by a female scholar who has been through the gender wars. It is very tough. It is also very tender. "
    -- Richard Eder, The New York Times
  • "An unqualified pleasure: thoughtful, funny, unusually engaging, with moments of almost novelistic poignancy."
    -- Louis Bayard, The Washington Post Book World
  • "...a grand, often hilarious Baedeker of beefcake and its discontents."
    -- Jesse Green, The New York Times Book Review
  • "With an almost chatty style, but also possessing a subtle power, her book transforms our habitual understanding of movies, advertisements, novels, and even trends and toys...Bordo's talent for reading culture presents us with the most valuable gift: a newly configured imagination."--Susan Griffin, Los Angeles Times Sunday Book Review
  • "Her writing is lively and her arguments compelling. As she strips away the layers and bares the male body, she deftly shows the beauty--and baggage--such images convey."                                    -- Karen Houppert, Newsday
  • "Equipped with wit and savvy, Bordo sets out to map the ambivalent attitudes that exist in the American cultural imagination toward male bodies . . . Part memoir, part elegy, this feminist guided tour of the male body concludes with real hope for improved relations between the sexes."
    -- Publisher's Weekly, starred review
  • "....a frank, sprightly, and, yes, educational look at the male nude as an index to attitudes about sexuality in the broth of media and pop culture in which, like it or not, we all stew."
    -- Patrizia DiLucchio, Amazon.Com
  • "...one of the most incisive social critics working today--and one of the best writers, too. Whether she's dissecting Lolita, movie and book, or Marlon Brando, 50s icon and symbol of masculinity, she's never predictable and often profound."
    -- Katha Pollitt

 

 

 

Selected Publications: 

 

Critical Praise for Unbearable Weight:

  • “A classic of feminist theory.” The New York Times
  • "Unbearable Weight is brilliant. From an immensely knowledgeable feminist perspective, in engaging, jargonless (!) prose, Bordo analyzes a whole range of issues connected to the body—weight and weight loss, exercise, media images, movies, advertising, anorexia and bulimia, and much more—in a way that makes sense of current social landscape—finally! This is a great book for anyone who wonders why women’s magazines are always describing delicious food as ‘sinful’ and why there is a cake called Death by Chocolate. Loved it!”
    -- Katha Pollitt, Nation columnist and author of Subject to Debate: Sense and Dissents on Women, Politics, and Culture (2001)
  • “This is a terrific book!”
    -- Nancy J. Chodorow, author of The Power of Feelings: Personal Meaning in Psychoanalysis, Gender, and Culture (2001)
  • “Susan Bordo’s Unbearable Weight is a masterpiece of complex an nuanced thinking not only about a significant problem that faces women but about our culture. A very valuable book.”
    -- Susan Griffin, author of The Book of the Courtesans: A Catalogue of Their Virtues (2001)
  • “To read Susan Bordo is to take a wild ride through the cultural images that form our daily lives, and to see them with a startling X-ray vision that reveals their blood and guts and bones, a vision that reveals us, finally, to ourselves.”
    -- Leslie Heywood, author of Pretty Good for A Girl (1999)

Praise for the First Edition:

  • A New York Times Notable Book of the Year 1993
  • Association for Women in Psychology Distinguished Publication Award, 1994
  • “This excellent study links the fear of women’s fat with a fear of women’s power and shows that as opportunities for women increase, their bodies dwindle.”
    -- New York Times Book Review
  • “Original, stimulating, and witty.”
    -- San Francisco Chronicle Book Review

Critical Praise for the Male Body:

  • "Provocative, unexpected and winning....remarkable, and not just because it is by a female scholar who has been through the gender wars. It is very tough. It is also very tender. "
    -- Richard Eder, The New York Times
  • "An unqualified pleasure: thoughtful, funny, unusually engaging, with moments of almost novelistic poignancy."
    -- Louis Bayard, The Washington Post Book World
  • "...a grand, often hilarious Baedeker of beefcake and its discontents."
    -- Jesse Green, The New York Times Book Review
  • "With an almost chatty style, but also possessing a subtle power, her book transforms our habitual understanding of movies, advertisements, novels, and even trends and toys...Bordo's talent for reading culture presents us with the most valuable gift: a newly configured imagination."--Susan Griffin, Los Angeles Times Sunday Book Review
  • "Her writing is lively and her arguments compelling. As she strips away the layers and bares the male body, she deftly shows the beauty--and baggage--such images convey."                                    -- Karen Houppert, Newsday
  • "Equipped with wit and savvy, Bordo sets out to map the ambivalent attitudes that exist in the American cultural imagination toward male bodies . . . Part memoir, part elegy, this feminist guided tour of the male body concludes with real hope for improved relations between the sexes."
    -- Publisher's Weekly, starred review
  • "....a frank, sprightly, and, yes, educational look at the male nude as an index to attitudes about sexuality in the broth of media and pop culture in which, like it or not, we all stew."
    -- Patrizia DiLucchio, Amazon.Com
  • "...one of the most incisive social critics working today--and one of the best writers, too. Whether she's dissecting Lolita, movie and book, or Marlon Brando, 50s icon and symbol of masculinity, she's never predictable and often profound."
    -- Katha Pollitt

Read an excerpt of The Male Body: A New Look at Men in Public and in Private.

 

 

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