Naked Exhibitionism: Gendered performance and public exposure

Claire Nally, Angela Smith

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review


What does it mean to be naked in public? Approaching this question from across the disciplines, this book examines the evolution of female exhibitionism from criminal taboo to prime-time entertainment. Taking an interdisciplinary approach which brings together all fields of popular culture, including literature, media, film and linguistics, Naked Exhibitionism examines gendered exhibitionism from the mid-twentieth century to the present day and asks whether bodily exposure provides the liberation it enacts or restricts our most secret selves to the sanitised realm of socially-sanctioned gender roles. From the art of burlesque as a riotous kingdom of the imagination to reality TV which helps women to unearth their 'true' and buried feminine selves, Nally and Smith explore how the critical history and theory of exhibitionism intersects with the wider movement towards gender equality and the effects of second-wave feminism to problematise the naked female form. Female and gender-transgressive performers from Bette Davis to Dita von Teese are placed in their cultural context alongside the works of Peter Ackroyd and the controversial playwright Sarah Kane to demonstrate that female exhibitionism remains at the heart of popular culture, and is critically examined to uncover the contradictions behind its evolving representations. Innovative, unflinching and pertinent, Naked Exhibitionism explores naked bodies in the public gaze and critically reformulates the feminist and cultural debate around the performance of gender.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherI. B. Tauris
Number of pages288
ISBN (Print)9781848858534
Publication statusPublished - 30 Aug 2012


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