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Erotic Innocence


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Explores the current preoccupation with child molesting and children's sexuality and the ways that this degree of fascination is itself suspect

About the Author

James R. Kincaid is Aerol Arnold Professor of English at the University of Southern California. He is the author of Annoying the Victorians.


According to the media, the sexual abuse of children has reached epidemic proportions, and those who do not think so are in denial. English professor Kincaid (Annoying the Victorians, Routledge, 1994) uses the model of the Gothic novel to explore the origin of this concept, showing that by employing Victorian and Freudian ideas our society has simultaneously idealized and eroticized images of children and youth. Citing examples from the tabloids, celebrity trials, and popular movies starring children, the author explains society's need for horrors such as ritual abuse, "kiddie porn," and accusations against clergy and day care workers. Preoccupation with this misguided sexuality allows the public to ignore the poverty, neglect, malnutrition, and poor education that constitute true child abuse. Kincaid suggests abandoning the Gothic model and acknowledging that erotic feelings are a normal part of life that rational adults can control. Written with clarity and wit, hers is a timely, interesting book. Recommended for academic and large public libraries.‘Barbara M. Bibel, Oakland P.L., CA

" ... 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 book of] centred wisdom and muscular rationality."--Paula Fass, The Washington Times "There is much in Erotic Innocence that is provoking, annoying, and amusing..." --James Campbell, The New York Times Book Review "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 "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" Brave, wise, original, and exuberantly engaging ... A brilliant and humane piece of cultural criticism."--Joseph Litvak, author of Strange Gourmets

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