The Last Taboo

Professor Karín Lesnik-Oberstein writes:

In 2007, I edited and contributed to the volume The Last Taboo: Women and Body Hair (Manchester University Press, 2007 and paperback reprint 2011) including contributions from several other colleagues in the department, such as Mrs Carolyn Lyle, Dr Sue Walsh, Dr Neil Cocks and Dr Stephen Thomson, as well as former PhD students from the department who are now themselves academics such as Dr Daniela Caselli, Dr Louise Tondeur and Dr Laura Scuriatti. The book is and remains the only book on the topic and took twenty years to get published as the subject was either ridiculed as too trivial and silly to write about, or too dangerous, revolting and mad to write about. In fact, those views are exactly what the book considers! The volume asks, across a range of disciplines (literature, anthropology, art history, opera, film, psychology, advertising) how any topic can be defined as too unimportant or too dangerous to be thought about. The book drew wider media interest right from the start and I have discussed the book on radio many times during the years, starting with BBC Radio 4’s ‘Women’s Hour’ and including radio broadcasts in Canada and the USA.

The Last Taboo

Most recently, the book was discussed in a piece in the Sunday Observer in an article by Elizabeth Day on July 27th, 2013 (see: and I spoke about it on BBC Radio Tees on August 15th  2013 on the Mike Parr morning show. It is fascinating how everyone I speak to about the book continues to find the subject  — and why and how to think about it —  as exciting and interesting as I have done from the day I thought about making the book! I also spoke about the book at one of this year’s Gender Forums (also reported on in this blog) and have discussed the issues the book is concerned with also with my undergraduate students, especially on the Part 3 module ‘Psychoanalysis and Text’ (you’ll have to take the module to find out what the links between the book and the module are exactly!).


About Cindy

Associate Professor in the Department of English Literature at the University of Reading. Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
This entry was posted in Department of English Literature news and events and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.