Receptive Bodies

Receptive Bodies

Leo Bersani

Print publication date: 2019

ISBN: 9780226579627

Publisher: University of Chicago Press


This book is centered on a surprisingly simple image: a newborn baby simultaneously crying out and drawing its first breath. These twin ideas—absorption and expulsion, the intake of physical and emotional nourishment, and the exhalation of breath—form the backbone of this book. These titular bodies range from fetuses in utero to fully eroticized adults, all the way to celestial giants floating in space. The author illustrates his exploration of the body's capacities to receive and resist what is ostensibly alien using a typically eclectic set of sources, from literary icons like Marquis de Sade to cinematic provocateurs such as Bruno Dumont and Lars von Trier. This book will be of interest to scholars of Freud, Foucault, and film studies, or anyone who has ever stopped to ponder the give and take of human corporeality.