In everyday language, masochism is usually understood as the desire to abdicate control in exchange for sensationpleasure, pain, or a combination thereof. Yet at its core, masochism is a site where power, bodies, and society come together.Sensational Fleshuses masochism as a lens to examine how power structures race, gender, and embodiment in different contexts.Drawing on rich and varied sourcesfrom 19th century sexology, psychoanalysis, and critical theory to literary texts and performance artAmber Jamilla Musser employs masochism as a powerful diagnostic tool for probing relationships between power and subjectivity. Engaging with a range of debates about lesbian SandM, racialization, femininity, and disability, as well as key texts such as Sacher-MasochsVenus in Furs, Pauline RagesThe Story of O, and Michel Foucault'sHistory of Sexuality, Musser renders legible the complex ways that masochism has been taken up by queer, feminist, and critical race theories. Furthering queer theorys investment in affect and materiality, she proposes sensation as an analytical tool for illustrating what it feels like to be embedded in structures of domination such as patriarchy, colonialism, and racism and what it means to embody femininity, blackness, and pain.Sensational Fleshis ultimately about the ways in which difference is made material through race, gender, and sexuality and how that materiality is experienced.
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