Friday, October 13, 2006

A list from Laura Kipnis

Laura Kipnis, a professor of media studies at Northwestern University and author of Against Love: A Polemic and The Female Thing, came up with an interesting list for The Week magazine.

Here are three of her titles:
Dora by Sigmund Freud

This “Analysis of a Case of Hysteria” reads like a perverted novella. Dora, 14 at the time, claims that Herr K, the husband of her father’s mistress, propositioned her during a walk. Dad carts Dora off to Freud to cure her delusions. But had Dad implicitly been bartering off his daughter to Herr K? Is Dora, as she insists, repelled by Herr K’s advances? Is it Frau K she really wants?

The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life by Erving Goffman

The subject is impression management, and how much of our time all we social creatures spend trying to control what others think of us. For Goffman, a renegade sociologist and deeply funny social observer, social life is a theatrical performance, and we’re all slightly hammy actors.

Under the Sign of Saturn by Susan Sontag

Sontag’s essay “Fascinating Fascism,” on whether or not Nazi-era filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl maintained a fascist aesthetic throughout her career, knocked me on my ass when I first read it at age 19: It taught me what a powerful instrument an unconstrained intellect can be. It’s not clear to me now that Sontag was right, but she’s brilliant here nonetheless.
Click here to see Kipnis' other three picks.

About Kipnis' The Female Thing, from the publisher:
In the female psyche nowadays, “contradictions speckle the landscape, like ingrown hairs after a bad bikini wax.” So writes Laura Kipnis, author of the widely acclaimed polemic Against Love. With “the gleeful viperish wit of Dorothy Parker” (Slate), Kipnis now offers a fresh and provocative assessment of the female condition in the post-post-feminist world of the twenty-first century. For every advance toward sexual equality on the part of women in recent years, she argues, some new impediment just “seems” to appear. Ironically, feminism ran up against an unanticipated opponent: the inner woman. [Click here to read the rest of the publisher's description.]
--Marshal Zeringue