The cult of eroticism is a pervasive force in modern society, affecting almost every aspect of our daily lives. In this book, Paul Rutherford argues that this phenomenon is a product of one of the major commercial and political enterprises of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries: the creation of desire - for sex, for wealth, and for entertainment.
A World Made Sexy examines museum exhibitions, art, books, magazines, films, and television to explore the popular rise of eroticism in America and across the developed world. Starting with a brief foray into the history of pornography, Rutherford goes on to explore a sexual liberation movement shaped by the ideas of Marx and Freud, the erotic styles of Salvador Dali and pop art, the pioneering use of publicity as erotica by Playboy and other media, and the growing concerns of cultural critics over the emergence of a regime of stimulation. In one case study, Rutherford pairs James Bond and Madonna in order to examine the link between sex and aggression. He details how television advertising after 1980 constructed a theatre of the libido to entice the buying public, and concludes by situating the cultivation of eroticism in the wider context of Michel Foucault's views on social power and governmentality, and specifically how they relate to sexuality, during the modern era.
A World Made Sexy is about power and pleasure, emancipation and domination, and the relationship between the personal passions and social controls that have crafted desire.
About the author
Paul Rutherford is Professor Emeritus in the Department of History at the University of Toronto. He is the author of several books published by UTP, including When Television was Young (1990), The New Icons? (1994), Endless Propaganda (2000), Weapons of Mass Persuasion (2004), and World Made Sexy (2007).
- Commended, Dorothy Lee Award 2008 - Media Ecology Association
‘A World Made Sexy is a clear and Lucid account of how sex came to permeate popular culture in the late twentieth century. Rutherford demonstrates considerable expertise in advertising history; nonetheless, the book is written for an interdisciplinary audience and should appeal to anyone interested in the question of why sexuality plays such a prominent role in commercial culture.’
Kristen Hatch: <em>Journal of the History of Sexuality, vol 20:02:2011</em>
Other titles by Paul Rutherford
The Adman's Dilemma
From Barnum to Trump
Weapons of Mass Persuasion
Marketing the War Against Iraq
The Advertising of Public Goods
The New Icons?
The Art of Television Advertising
When Television was Young
Primetime Canada, 1952-1967
A Victorian Authority
The Daily Press in Late Nineteenth-Century Canada
Saving the Canadian City, the first phase 1880-1920
An Anthology of Early Articles on Urban Reform
The City Below The Hill
The Slums of Montreal, 1897