A history of pubic hair, or reviewers’ responses to Terry Eagleton's <i>After Theory</i>

Louise Tondeur

in The Last Taboo

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780719075001
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781702567 | DOI:
A history of pubic hair, or reviewers’ responses to Terry Eagleton's After Theory

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Reviewers' responses to Terry Eagleton's After Theory have, in part, been concerned with a comment made in the introduction: ‘Not all students are blind to the Western narcissism involved in working on the history of pubic hair while half the world's population lacks adequate sanitation and survives on less than two dollars a day.’ This chapter examines the reviewers' responses to this quotation and argues that Eagleton is using wit and exaggeration as a means to shift perception rather than to give evidence. It also asserts that the reviewers are as much revealing something of their own assumptions about hair, gender and politics, as an understanding of Eagleton's arguments in After Theory. The Eagleton pubic hair quotation is reminiscent of another one, the debate around which is discussed by Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick. What a comparison of the After Theory reviews to the Sedgwick makes clear is that both masturbation and pubic hair are about sexuality itself. The notions embedded in the Eagleton quotation are also reminiscent of Sigmund Freud's The Medusa's Head.

Keywords: Terry Eagleton; After Theory; pubic hair; narcissism; gender; Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick; masturbation; sexuality; Sigmund Freud; Medusa's Head

Chapter.  8839 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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