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Abject bodies and Burton’s The Anatomy of Melancholy
Naomi Baker

subject is called into question. Carrier of diseases and transgressor of sexual, social and physical norms, she horrifies and nauseates, provoking a violent response. Rather than simply subverting normative forms of identity, however, depictions of unattractive women frequently shore up the fragile boundaries of these identities. Kristeva’s theorisation of the abject sheds light on

in Plain ugly
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Ugly subjects in early modern England
Naomi Baker

. Kristeva’s theorisation of the abject illuminates the ambivalent processes at work in representations of ugly figures in this era. In Powers of Horror , Kristeva defines the abject as that which ‘does not respect borders, positions, rules’. Anything that transgresses bodily boundaries, for example faeces or blood, represents the abject, as do deformed bodies and corpses, entities that confuse the

in Plain ugly
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Fly Away Peter and Harland’s Half Acre
Don Randall

place-claiming, place-defining function, Aboriginality is disturbingly associated with the abject, and begins to function as the organising core of Malouf’s more broad-based portrayal of abjection. The Aborigine first takes shape as modern Australia’s abjected element (that is, the element rendered abject by social and historical forces) during Frank’s Depression-era wanderings, in the episode that concludes the novel’s first section, ‘Killarney’. Frank seeks shelter in the grimmest of all sites symbolising modernity’s failures, an auto junkyard, or in Malouf’s words

in David Malouf
The Innocent and Black Dogs
Dominic Head

, may not do full justice to the episode. The effect of the dismemberment on Leonard is both profound and ambiguous. It propels him, in fact, into a state that corresponds very closely to abjection, as articulated by Julia Kristeva. For Kristeva, the abject is the horrified response to the threatened collapse of meaning when the distinction between self and other is blurred. A corpse, which instantly reminds us of our own mortality, is Kristeva’s chief example of that which triggers the abject: ‘the corpse, seen without God and outside of science, is the utmost of

in Ian McEwan
Don Randall

, whose body, in Turcotte’s view, ‘is the abject component of the European self’.10 But one must recall that the abject element is abjected, rendered abject; it is a production, not an accidental misfortune. If Adair draws, as he does, a personal, developmental profit from his encounter with Carney, it is precisely because he is able, finally, to identify with the abject other. Such identification, quite frequent in Malouf, goes against the typical function of abjection in identity formation, 160 David Malouf in which the self seeks to consolidate itself by isolating

in David Malouf
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L’effroi et l’attirance of the wild-woman
Jacqueline Lazú

dynamic behind Stuart Hall’s theory of racism and Francis Affergan’s ‘exotic Other’, the abject both attracts and repels. 27 Yet it is not a ‘lack of cleanliness or health that causes abjection but what disturbs identity, system, order. What does not respect borders, positions, rules. The in-between, the ambiguous, the composite’. 28 If, as Kristeva suggests, every society is founded on the abject – those things it excludes – they must be controlled so that society can develop. For Kristeva, the ultimate prohibition is that against the

in The last taboo
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Robert Duggan

adventurousness and linguistic prowess combined with his interest in the grotesque body and black humour mark him out as a prominent exponent of the contemporary British grotesque. The chapter on Ian McEwan charts his development from macabre explorer of dysfunction and psychosis in early works such as The Cement Garden (1980, first published 1978) and The Comfort of Strangers (1982, first published 1981) to celebrated public figure and Booker Prize winner. While the elements of taboo, horror and the abject have been identified in his early work, this section makes Grotesque

in The grotesque in contemporary British fiction
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Female body hair on the screen
Alice Macdonald

and her theory of abjection. For Kristeva, the concept of the abject body refers to the pre-Oedipal infant’s struggle to separate from the mother’s nurturing body and thus create an independent identity. The infant’s expulsion or ‘abjection’ of the maternal body creates a border between inside and outside itself, and is expressed in reactions of disgust to body excretions (matter expelled from the body’s insides). Such fear and loathing arise because these expulsions expose the fragility of the constituted border which constantly threatens to dissolve and re

in The last taboo
Deciphering ugly faces
Naomi Baker

become thine own ghost, and thine own hell. 19 Donne’s nauseating description of fallen bodies as rotting corpses illustrates the abject status of the flesh within Protestant frameworks. A principle of death in life, the flesh, identified in this sermon with the skin, is at once the physical border of the self and the site where both the body and the self break

in Plain ugly
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Defeatured women
Naomi Baker

; the end of everything’. 113 The terms in which mutilation is depicted in this group of texts emphasise the abject status of the female body, identifying its failure to maintain its boundaries and consequently its threat to dominant forms of identity. The fantasy of mutilating the female body played out in these works is implicitly related to the anxiety provoked by the model of female corporeality in which they are

in Plain ugly