Friday, March 11, 2016

What is Kurt Stenn reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Kurt Stenn, author of Hair: A Human History.

His entry begins:
My book reading falls into two categories: 1. General science and readings related to my current project, and 2. Readings that give me some insight into creative and disciplined writing.

During the last two months, readings in the first category (and relevant to my new book, Hair: A Human History) included Rebecca Herzig’s Plucked: A History of Hair Removal, which was published by New York University Press last year. It’s a detailed, well-documented, scholarly description of the human preoccupation with body hair, from the fastidious attention ancient Egyptians gave to facial hair to the modern obsession with pubic hair. Herzig asks evolutionary questions about why humans lost their body hair compared to other apes and what it is about hair which...[read on]
About Hair: A Human History., from the publisher:
A microhistory in the vein of Salt and Cod exploring the biological, evolutionary, and cultural history of one of the world's most fascinating fibers.

Most people don't give a second thought to the stuff on their head, but hair has played a crucial role in in fashion, the arts, sports, commerce, forensics, and industry. In Hair, Kurt Stenn — one of the world's foremost hair follicle experts — takes readers on global journey through history, from fur merchant associations and sheep farms to medical clinics and patient support groups, to show the remarkable impact hair has had on human life. From a completely bald beauty queen with alopecia to the famed hair-hang circus act, Stenn weaves the history of hair through a variety of captivating examples, with sources varying from renaissance merchants’ diaries to interviews with wig makers, modern barbers, and more. In addition to expelling the biological basis and the evolutionary history of hair, the fiber is put into context: hair in history (as tied to textile mills and merchant associations), hair as a construct for cultural and self-identity, hair in the arts (as the material for artist's brushes and musical instruments), hair as commodity (used for everything from the inner lining of tennis balls to an absorbent to clean up oil spills), and hair as evidence in criminology. Perfect for fans of Mark Kurlansky, Hair is a compelling read based solidly in historical and scientific research that will delight any reader who wants to know more about the world around them.
Learn more about Hair: A Human History at the publisher's website.

Writers Read: Kurt Stenn.

--Marshal Zeringue