In Erotic Innocence James R. Kincaid explores contemporary America's preoccupation with stories about the sexual abuse of children. Claiming that our culture has yet to come to terms with the bungled legacy of Victorian sexuality, Kincaid examines how children and images of youth are idealised, fetishised, and eroticised in everyday culture. Drawing on a number of wide-ranging and well-publicised cases as well as scandals involving such celebrities as Michael Jackson and Woody Allen, Kincaid looks at issues surrounding children's testimonies, accusations against priests and day-care centres, and the horrifying yet persistently intriguing rumors of satanic cults and "kiddie porn" rings. In analyzing the particular form of popularity shared by such child stars as Shirley Temple and Macaulay Culkin, he exposes the strategies we have devised to deny our own role in the sexualisation of children. Finally, Kincaid reminds us how other forms of abuse inflicted on children - neglect, abandonment, inadequate nutrition, poor education - are often overlooked in favour of the sensationalised sexual abuse coverage in the news, on daytime TV talk shows, and in the elevators and cafeterias of America each day.
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" . . . a sane and sarcastic study by Professor Kincaid which should make all the abuse-freaks shut up. . . Kincaid's idee maitresse . . . is that all this chatter has little to do with protecting children and everything to do with feeding ghastly concealed adult appetites . . . full of wisdom and sanity." -- The Spectator, 26 August, 2000
"A stunning and stinging book--more than entertaining, it is medicinal. This is Kincaid at his powerful, funny, learned, and sinuous best." -- Nina Auerbach, author of Our Vampires, Ourselves"
"Fascinating and thoughtful . . . . Kincaid's ideas deserve a fair hearing and consideration." -- Richard P. Kluft, Journal of the American Medical Association
"Kincaid's most trenchant (and bravely comic) pages take up the dream of child seduction that Victorian writers like Lewis Carroll initiated and follow it into contemporary narratives." -- Marina Warner, Village Voice Literary Supplement
"There is much in Erotic Innocence that is provoking, annoying, and amusing. . ." -- James Campbell, The New York Times Book Review
"[A book of] centred wisdom and muscular rationality." -- Paula Fass, The Washington Times
James R. Kincaid is Aerol Arnold Professor of English at the University of Southern California. He is the author of "Annoying the Victorians."
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