The Body Reader

Essential Social and Cultural Readings

432 pages

10 illustrations

February, 2010

ISBN: 9780814795668



Also available in


Lisa Jean Moore is Professor of Sociology and Women’s Studies at Purchase College, State University of New York. She is author of Sperm Counts: Overcome by Man’s Most Precious Fluid and co-author of Missing Bodies: The Politics of Visibility and Buzz: Urban Beekeeping and the Power of the Bee. She is also co-editor of the collection The Body Reader and, with Monica Casper, oversees the series Biopolitics: Medicine, Technoscience, and Health in the Twenty-First Century for NYU Press.

All books by Lisa Jean Moore

Mary Kosut is a cultural sociologist and Associate Professor of Media, Society, and the Arts and Gender Studies at Purchase College, State University of New York. She is editor of The Encyclopedia of Gender in Media, co-editor of The Body Reader: Essential Social and Cultural Readings, and author of Buzz: Urban Beekeeping and the Power of the Bee.

All books by Mary Kosut

Plastic surgery, obesity, anorexia, pregnancy, prescription drugs, disability, piercings, steroids, and sex re-assignment surgery: over the past two decades there have been major changes in the ways we understand, treat, alter, and care for our bodies. The Body Reader is a compelling, cutting-edge, and timely collection that provides a close look at the emergence of the study of the body.

From prenatal genetic testing and "t;manscaping"; to televideo cybersex and the “meth economy,” this innovative work digs deep into contemporary lifestyles and current events to cover key concepts and theories about the body. A combination of twenty one classic readings and original essays, the contributors highlight gender, race, class, ability, and sexuality, paying special attention to bodies that are at risk, bodies that challenge norms, and media representations of the body. Ultimately, The Body Reader makes it clear that the body is not neutral—it is the entry point into cultural and structural relationships, emotional and subjective experiences, and the biological realms of flesh and bone.

Contributors: Patricia Hill Collins, Karen Dias, H. Hugh Floyd, Jr., Arthur Frank, Sander L. Gilman, Gillian Haddow, Richard Huggins, Matthew Immergut, Lea Kent, Kristen Karlberg, Steve Kroll-Smith, Mary Kosut, Jarvis Jay Masters, Lisa Jean Moore, Tracey Owens Patton, William J. Peace, Jason Pine, Eric Plemons, Barbara Katz Rothman, Edward Slavishak, Phillip Vannini, and Dennis Waskul.


  • “A powerful exploration of the many ways that bodies and embodiment matter. The editors have carefully selected a mix of classic and original articles, and their section introductions alone will prove an invaluable resource for researchers and teachers. This smart collection is certain to shape the interdisciplinary field of body studies.”

    —Janice Irvine, author of Disorders of Desire: Sexuality and Gender in Modern American Sexology

  • “This collection of essays provides a rich smorgasbord of scholarly approaches to the body, its many meanings and experiences. For readers who want to savor the inter-disciplinarity of this exciting genre of cultural studies, this is an important book to read and have on your shelf.”

    —Joan Jacobs Brumberg, author of The Body Project: An Intimate History of American Girls

  • "The Body Reader provides an excellent series of in-depth discussions of important issues that are realted to body image and personal identity, as well as of social and cultural perceptions and values. The presentations are definitive, refreshingly original , insightful, and well written. The interdisciplinary approaches to this important topic have been skillfully blended and organized by the editors. This is a theoretically important set of readings that deserves a wide readership among a wide variety of behavioral and biological scientists."

    —James A. Moses Jr., American Psychological Association

  • "Anyone looking for a research idea or seeking inspiration to write about her or his own embodiment from a scholarly perpective is likely to find it in The Body Reader. This reader is a fascinating read."

    —Joan C. Chrisler, Jennifer Bessette, Springer Science and Business Media Journal

  • "The attention on the body has been growing in the academic discourse over the last years, and The Body Reader...contributes to it greatly."

    Metapsychology Online Reviews

  • The Body Reader makes you want to sit down immediately and browse, and the reading pays off. The essays are wide-ranging, and each covers its topic with scope and depth. Covering theory, praxis, and critique, this anthology is sure to be a favorite for courses in sociology of the body, disability studies, and a variety of women’s/gender studies subjects, including science and technology. I highly recommend it!”

    —Judith Lorber, author of Breaking the Bowls: Degendering and Feminist Change