Sum of Her Parts

Alpine Books


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The Sum of Her Parts explores how women’s body parts and the roles/parts that women play have been deployed toward political ends. One essay examines Sarah Winchester and the lore that sprung up around her most famous—and most falsely mythologized—home, the Winchester Mystery House, to suggest that the woman and her house have been used as vessels to hold the nation’s ongoing gun guilt. Another essay springboards from a personal encounter into etymological history, tracing how the word ?cunt? went from being a relatively benign description of a body part to the word the Oxford English Dictionary cites as the most vile invective in the English language. Connecting topics as diverse as bra shopping, Wonder Woman, and a Metallica rockumentary, Griffiths explores what women’s parts mean in contemporary America.

Griffiths uses humor and sincerity to approach the topic of the female body through a wide variety of essay forms, blending lyric and narrative modes. Using fragmentation as well as traditional argumentation, the collection invites the reader to think ambiguously and explosively, allowing complication rather than easily connected dots. The result is a discussion of the female body that is varied, complex, nuanced, and thoughtful.