Venus In The Dark: Blackness And Beauty In Popular Culture

Venus In The Dark: Blackness And Beauty In Popular Culture
by Janell Hobson / / / PDF


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In this second edition of the remarkable, and now classic, cultural history of black womens beauty, Venus in the Dark, Janell Hobson explores the enduring figure of the "Hottentot Venus" and the history of critical and artistic responses to her by black women in contemporary photography, film, literature, music, and dance. In 1810, Sara Baartman was taken from South Africa to Europe, where she was put on display at circuses, salons, museums, and universities as the "Hottentot Venus." The subsequent legacy of representations of black womens sexualityfrom Josephine Baker to Serena Williams to hip-hop and dancehall videosrefer back to her iconic image. Via a new preface, Hobson argues for the continuing influence of Baartmans legacy, as her image still reverberates through the contemporary marketization of black womens bodies, from popular music and pornography to advertising. A brand new chapter explores how historical echoes from previous eras map onto highly visible bodies in the twenty-first century. It analyzes fetishistic spectacles of the black "booty," with particular emphasis on the role of Beyoncnowles in the popularization of the "bootylicious" body, and the counter-aesthetic the singer has gone on to advance for black womens bodies and beauty politics. By studying the imagery of the "Hottentot Venus," from the nineteenth century to now, readers are invited to confront the racial and sexual objectification and embodied resistance that make up a significant part of black womens experience.

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