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American Wild Zones

Space, Experience, Consciousness


Jerzy Kamionowski and Jacek Partyka

The contributors understand the wild zone as denoting the existence and experience of a group (ethnic, social, sub-cultural, sexual, religious, etc.) which is/was marginalized in American society. Reaching far beyond the boundaries of original agenda (Edwin Ardener’s and Elaine Showalter’s), the term’s applicability has been significantly enlarged. Its fluidity or fuzziness, however, ought to be taken as a blessing: in the rapidly changing contemporary («liquid») world it is the language that needs to keep up with new circumstances and developments, not the other way round.
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“Deathly afraid of being anything but normal”: Exploring the “Wild Zone” of Fat Female Body in Neil LaBute’s Fat Pig


← 146 | 147 →Natalia Vysotska

With growing awareness of corporeality as a shaper of unconscious and cognitive structures, Western philosophy and socio-cultural theory in the late 20th and early 21st centuries tend to become increasingly “body-centric.” Popular and consumer cultures, in their turn, capitalize upon visual, sensual, and somatic aspects. This newly awakened interest finds its expression, in particular, in further raids into the realm of state power control over individual bodies first mapped by Michel Foucault. According to him, the latter can be subordinated and manipulated not solely through direct physical coercion, but also more subtly, through discursive practices, with control by repression eventually superseded by rhetorical control, by stimulation or condemnation (Foucault 1980, 57). As Brian S. Turner specifies, in the modern epoch “diet, asceticism and regimen are obviously forms of control exercised over bodies with the aim of establishing a discipline” (159), so as to perpetuate societal hold over the body within urban space.

Paradoxically, in the USA “irregular bodies” (with “irregular” standing for “overweight” for this paper’s purposes) find themselves in the focus of public attention as abstractions widely discussed in print and media, while their “difference” often makes them invisible in public spaces, with “normal” people choosing to avoid embarrassing encounters with (shameful) Otherness. American mass media, film industry, and ads projecting “endless images of demanding slenderness” (Stearns vii) that enjoy the status of prescriptions are continuously engaged in cultivating desirable (and acceptable) female bodily standards. Any deviations from them, seen as...

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