Heartthrobs: A History of Women and Desire

ISBN : 9780198828129

Carol Dyhouse
288 Pages
135 x 135 mm
Pub date
Jan 2020
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From dreams of Prince Charming or dashing military heroes, to the lure of dark strangers and vampire lovers; from rock stars and rebels to soulmates, dependable family types, or simply good companions, female fantasies about men tell us a great deal about the history of women. In Heartthrobs, Carol Dyhouse draws upon literature, cinema, and popular romance to show how the changing cultural and economic position of women has shaped their dreams about men. When girls were supposed to be shrinking violets, passionate females risked being seen as 'unbridled', or dangerously out of control. Change came slowly, and young women remained trapped in a double-bind: you may have needed a husband in order to survive, but you had to avoid looking like a gold-digger. Show attraction too openly and you might be judged 'fast' and undesirable. Education and wage-earning brought independence and a widening of horizons for women. These new economic beings showed a sustained appetite for novel-reading, cinema-going, and the dancehall. They sighed over Rudolph Valentino's screen performances as tango-dancer or Arab tribesman and desert lover. Women may have been ridiculed for these obsessions, but, as consumers, they had new clout. This book reveals changing patterns of desire, and looks at men through the eyes of women.


1 Her Heart's Desire: What Did Women Want?
2 Unbridled Passions
3 Packaging the Male
4 Once upon a dream: Prince Charming, Cavaliers, Regency Beaux
5 Dark Princes, Foreign Powers: Desert Lovers, Outsiders, and Vampires
6 Soulmates: Intimacy, Integrity, Trust
7 Power: Protection, Transformative Magic, and Patriarchy
8 Sighing for the Moon?

About the author: 

Carol Dyhouse is Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Sussex. She has written extensively about the social history of women, gender, and education. Her recent publications include Glamour: Women, History, Feminism (Zed Books, 2011) and Girl Trouble: Panic and Progress in the History of Young Women (Zed Books, 2013). She is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and in 2004 she was awarded an honorary D.Litt from the University of Winchester in recognition of her work on history and education.

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