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Public Privates - Terri Kapsalis

Public Privates - Terri Kapsalis

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From J. Marion Sims’s surgical experiments on unanesthetised slave women in the mid-nineteenth century, to the use of cadavers and prostitutes to teach medical students gynaecological techniques, Kapsalis focuses on the ways in which women and their bodies have been treated by the medical establishment. Removing gynaecology from its private cover within clinic walls and medical textbook pages, she decodes the gynaecological exam, seizing on its performative dimension. She considers traditional medical practices and the dynamics of "proper" patient performance; non-traditional practices such as cervical self-exam; and incarnations of the pelvic examination outside the bounds of medicine, including its appearance in David Cronenberg’s film Dead Ringers and Annie Sprinkle’s performance piece "Public Cervix Announcement."


Confounding the boundaries that separate medicine, art, and pornography, revealing the potent cultural attitudes and anxieties about women, bodies, and female sexuality that permeate the practice of gynaecology, Public Privates concludes by locating a venue from which challenging, alternative performances may be staged.

  • Paperback : 228 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 0822319217
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0822319214
  • Dimensions : 15.57 x 1.47 x 23.5 cm
  • Publisher : Duke University Press; Illustrated edition (19 Feb. 1997)