Harry Crews's Body and the Politics of Eugenics

UNCP Author/Contributor (non-UNCP co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Jenny Teague (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Pembroke (UNCP )
Web Site: http://www.uncp.edu/academics/library
Wendy Miller

Abstract: It is my contention that Crews's "Body" reveals the complexities and contradictions of the female bodybuilding subculture. This examination seeks to explore the contradictions within female bodybuilding as it functions as a eugenic subculture. Crews's presentation of the female bodybuilding subculture reveals the eugenic nature of the sport. The primary dialogue that ultimately pushes this to the forefront is, of course, centered around main character Dorothy Turnipseed turned female bodybuilder, Shereel Dupont, and her primary competitor in the Ms. Cosmos competition, Marvella Washington. When examining the female bodybuilding subculture presented within "Body" through the characters of Sherell and Marvella it becomes clear that any sense of empowerment is coupled with exploitation and manipulation. Shereel's complacency with trainer, Russel "Muscle" Morgan, disavows any notion that bodybuilding will be an agency for empowerment for her character. Simultaneously, Marvella's complacency with trainer, Wallace "The Wall" Wilson, deconstructs any notions that bodybuilding will be any more empowering for her character either. Marvella demonstrates complacency within the patriarchal relationshi that she has with her trainer, Wallace Wilson. Marvella does so by embracing Wallace's chemical enhancement of her body. The ultimate question answered at the novel's close is who will win the competition. Despite Price's analysis that the novel's conclusion is a showdown between face queen Shereel and monster Marvella, the eugenic-based female bodybuilding subculture is more complex. The showdown, at the novel's closing, however, is indicative of a showdown between two differing form of eugenics. Shereel, it seems, represents a body that complies with traditional eugenics while Marvella represents a body aligned with modern euginics.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2011
Female Bodybuilding, Eugenic Subculture, Dorothy Turnipseed, Sherell Dupont, Marvella Washington, Traditional Eugenics, Modern Eugenics, Contradictions of Female Bodybuilding

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