What is it about?

This is an introduction to a special issue of the journal Body & Society on Elaine Scarry's influential book The Body in Pain, first published in 1985. In the introduction we look at the way the book continues to influence contemporary debates on pain, embodiment and war, as well as the way current scholarship challenges some of Scarry's arguments. Finally, we introduce the articles that make up the special issue.

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Why is it important?

Scarry's The Body in Pain has been highly influential across a range of disciplines, but there have been few in-depth analyses of the book's arguments. By revisiting the key arguments of the book we demonstrate the ways they have influenced contemporary scholarship, as well as the ways recent scholarship challenges some of Scarry's arguments. This is particularly relevant for the various areas of scholarship that focus on embodiment, including theories of affect, new materialisms, critical race theory and feminist theory.


This introduction — and the special issue in general — was the culmination of a project that began in 2014 with the idea for a major international conference to be organised on Scarry's The Body in Pain, which was held in December 2015 at University of Brighton. It was very rewarding to see this project through and to collaborate with my friend and colleague Leila Dawney throughout.

Dr Timothy J. Huzar
National Coalition of Independent Scholars

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Introduction: The Legacies and Limits of The Body in Pain, Body & Society, August 2019, SAGE Publications, DOI: 10.1177/1357034x19857133.
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