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Table of Contents: Reviews of Films and Books

Evolution of AllureThe Evolution of Allure: Sexual selection from the Medici Venus to the Incredible Hulk Linda Robbins: George Hersey's The Evolution of Allure is a fascinating account linking the representation in art of beauty and sexual attractiveness with evolution, sexual selection and what is really going on in a culture.

Venus in Exile Carrie Keats: In her book, Venus in Exile: The Rejection of Beauty in 20 th -Century Art , Wendy Steiner underlines the assertion that modern art is purposely ugly and attempts to trace the intellectual roots of this monstrosity through the philosophies of Immanuel Kant and Edmund Burke, early twentieth century arguments of the avant-garde and the movement to banish the feminine, the sentimental and the beautiful in striving to attain the shattering experience of the sublime.

A Review of D. Meltzer's and M.H. Williams' book The Apprehension of Beauty:The Role of Aesthetic Conflict in Development, Violence and Art Linda Robbins: This is a fascinating, interesting, but difficult book about the 'apprehension' of beauty. The title is a rather complicated pun as to 'apprehend' something can mean to grasp it but 'apprehensive' can also mean to be fearful of. Beauty attracts us, we want to grasp it, but it also makes us anxious. Our anxieties about beauty are epitomized in John Keats' (1795-1821) poem 'La Belle Dame Sans Merci': "They cried-"La Belle Dame sans Merci/Hath thee in thrall!"

On Blondes"Why Doesn't She?" : A Full-Length Review of Joanna Pitman's On Blondes Michael Sones: If you are interested in the history of beauty, hair color, and hairstyles within the social context of culture then I think you will find Joanna Pitman's  On Blondes a book with all of the compelling fascination of a 'blonde' itself. Beginning with the ancient Greeks and concluding with the holy female trinity of Madonna, Princess Diana, and Margaret Thatcher it is an intriguing and knowledgeable study of the history and place of the 'power of the  blonde' within the 'symbolic code' of different Western cultures.

Hair Matters Hair Matters: Beauty, Power, and Black Women's Consciousness Aleatha Lillitos reviews this interesting book about the politics of black hair and black beauty. Is it a "sell-out" for a black woman to use relaxers on her hair? The author of this book, Ingrid Banks, is a social scientist and Assistant Professor of Black Studies in the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies at Virginia Tech. In the introduction she uses a news story that goes straight to the heart of the emotional, historical and ideological matter of the book; hair matters to black women in particular because hair is not simply about perceptions of attractiveness or otherwise, but it also signifies political, cultural and social meanings in relation to group identity.

American BeautyBeauty and Redemption Alan Stone: American Beauty and Elaine Scarry look or aesthetic experience in unexpected places. The article examines the relationship between the theme of Elaine Scarry's 'On Beauty and Being Just' and the film 'American Beauty' looking at loss, death, beauty, God, and redemption. From The Boston Review

 

The Adonis ComplexBuff Enough? by Jonathan Rauch. A review of the The Adonis Complex: The Secret Crisis of Male Body Obsession, by Pope Jr., Phillips, and Olivardi. So the first and most important thing to say about The Adonis Complex is: Hooray! For years, the scientific and popular literature has been full of hand wringing about eating disorders and body obsessions in women; but about men, next to nothing. The authors originally focused their own clinical work-in psychiatry and psychology at the Harvard and Brown medical schools-on women. Only gradually did they realize that "body dysmorphic disorders," as body obsessions are officially called, are also common in men, who almost never reveal or discuss them. "We want to tell these men and the people who love them," Pope and his colleagues write, "that they no longer need to suffer alone, that the Adonis Complex-this secret crisis of male body obsession-afflicts millions in our society and around the world." From Reason.

The Mating MindArt and Sexual Selection Denis Dutton: Lovers of evolutionary psychology have marveled in the last few years on the capacity of this discipline to throw new light on aspects of human life. Fundamental to sexual selection in the animal kingdom is female choice, as the typical routine for most species has males displaying strength, cleverness, and general genetic fitness in order to invite female participation in producing the next generation. With the human animal, there is a greater mutuality of choice, although even with us it is often males who propose and females who dispose. This is one of the central ideas of Miller's The Mating Mind. From The John Hopkins University Press

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Awakening BeautyAnthony Napoleon, the author of Awakening Beauty: An Illustrated Look at Mankind's Love and Hatred of Beauty, is a psychologist who has spent many years studying beauty and its impact upon both individuals and society. He has worked with both cosmetic surgery patients and beauty pageant contestants as well as conducting original research into the field. Awakening Beauty is an unprecedented exposé on the subject of beauty. It is both entertaining and thought provoking, a combination that is as unique as it is telling about the author's approach to the subject of this book. The reader is taken backstage into the worlds of beauty pageants, plastic surgery, trophy wives, murderous rage, wardrobe, makeup, Bill Clinton, the events of September Eleven and other provocative topics where beauty has had its effect. Awakening Beauty invites the reader into a world that is as interesting as it is frightening. Readers are transformed as the author shepherds them from their world into his unique perspective and expertise on beauty. Awakening Beauty includes over one hundred tantalizing photographs and illustrations. Awakening Beauty is a compendium of some of the most interesting facts in print. The subject matter of the book along with the author's unique approach to it makes this book a "must read." Get ready to re-think everything you thought you knew about beautiful women and physical attractiveness.

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