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Blush

Faces of Shame

2005
Author:

Elspeth Probyn

Blush

Exposes shame as a valuable emotion essential to our humanity

Elspeth Probyn contends that shame is a powerful resource in rethinking who we are and who we want to be. What shames us says a great deal about our character as individuals and as a society. Blush combines psychology and cultural criticism, sociology and popular science, to present a unique perspective on debates about the ethics and emotion of identity.

Blush is a rare achievement, an exhilarating scholarly book that stirs the imagination and inspires hope and joy as it prickles the reader's conscience. As Elspeth Probyn writes about particular experiences of shame, the beauty and urgency of her vision for renewing the study of what it means to be human makes itself felt on every page.

Meaghan Morris, Lingnan University, Hong Kong

With the rise of pride—national pride, gay pride, black pride, fat pride—shame, the “sickness of the soul,” has acquired a bad reputation. While the repudiation of some forms and consequences of societal shame are undoubtedly necessary, Elspeth Probyn contends that this emotion is a powerful resource in rethinking who we are and who we want to be. When we blush, we are driven to question what we value about ourselves and why.

Blush argues that we are all born with a capacity for shame, much as we are born with the capacity for anger or pride, and that shame, like these other emotions, can be good for us and reveal the good in us. Painfully introspective, shame demands that we question our actions and our relationship to others. As shame’s physical manifestation, the blush gives us away, connecting us to our humanity. What shames us says a great deal about our character as individuals and as a society, about our past and our desires for the future.

Written in an engaging and personal style, Blush combines psychology and cultural criticism, sociology and popular science, to present a unique perspective on debates about the ethics and emotion of identity.

Blush

Elspeth Probyn is professor and chair of gender and cultural studies at the University of Sydney. Her previous books include Sexing the Self, Outside Belongings, Carnal Appetites, and Sexy Bodies. She has also coedited a collection on the ethics of new forms of media and is a columnist for the Australian.

Blush

Blush is a rare achievement, an exhilarating scholarly book that stirs the imagination and inspires hope and joy as it prickles the reader's conscience. As Elspeth Probyn writes about particular experiences of shame, the beauty and urgency of her vision for renewing the study of what it means to be human makes itself felt on every page.

Meaghan Morris, Lingnan University, Hong Kong

Elspeth Probyn demonstrates her incomparable skills in illuminating intellectual concepts by grounding them in everyday realities. In Blush, she liberates shame from its tradition of freezing us in moral paralysis.

Sneja Gunew, University of British Columbia, Canada

Worthwhile, engaging and well written.

Choice