Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Laura Kipnis  

Pen Name: None


Audience: Adult;

Born: 1956 in Chicago, Illinois

-- Website --
-- Laura Kipnis on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Laura Kipnis is a Professor at Northwwestern University's School of Communication in Evanston, Illinois.

Biographical and Professional Information

Kipnis is th author of ''Against Love: A Polemic'' and ''The Female Thing: DDirt, Sex, Envy, Vulnerability'', which have been translated into fifteen languages. She is a professor in the Department of Radio/TV/Film at Northweasterdn University, has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation and has contributed to ''Slate'', ''Harper's'', ''The Nation'', and ''The New York Times Magazine''. She lives in New York and Chicago.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

Ecstasy Unlimited: On Sex, Capital, Gender, and Aesthetics
ISBN: 0816619964

Univ Of Minnesota Press. 1993

Bound and Gagged: Pornography and the Politics of Fantasy in America
ISBN: 0822323435

Duke University Press Books. 1998

In a book that completely changes the terms of the pornography debate, Laura Kipnis challenges the position that porn perpetuates misogyny and sex crimes. First published in 1996, Bound and Gagged opens with the chilling case of Daniel DePew, a man convicted—in the first computer bulletin board entrapment case—of conspiring to make a snuff film and sentenced to thirty-three years in prison for merely trading kinky fantasies with two undercover cops.
Using this textbook example of social hysteria as a springboard, Kipnis argues that criminalizing fantasy—even perverse and unacceptable fantasy—has dire social consequences. Exploring the entire spectrum of pornography, she declares that porn isn’t just about gender and that fantasy doesn’t necessarily constitute intent. She reveals Larry Flynt’s Hustler to be one of the most politically outspoken and class-antagonistic magazine in the country and shows how fetishes such as fat admiration challenge our aesthetic prejudices and socially sanctioned disgust. Kipnis demonstrates that the porn industry—whose multibillion-dollar annual revenues rival those of the three major television networks combined—know precisely how to tap into our culture’s deepest anxieties and desires, and that this knowledge, more than all the naked bodies, is what guarantees its vast popularity.
Bound and Gagged challenges our most basic assumptions about America’s relationship with pornography and questions what the calls to eliminate it are really attempting to protect.

Against Love: A Polemic
ISBN: 0375719326

Vintage. 2004

Who would dream of being against love? No one.

Love is, as everyone knows, a mysterious and all-controlling force, with vast power over our thoughts and life decisions.

But is there something a bit worrisome about all this uniformity of opinion? Is this the one subject about which no disagreement will be entertained, about which one truth alone is permissible? Consider that the most powerful organized religions produce the occasional heretic every ideology has its apostates even sacred cows find their butchers. Except for love.

Hence the necessity for a polemic against it. A polemic is designed to be the prose equivalent of a small explosive device placed under your E-Z-Boy lounger. It won’t injure you (well not severely) it’s just supposed to shake things up and rattle a few convictions.

The Female Thing: Dirt, Sex, Envy, Vulnerability
ISBN: 0375424172

Pantheon. 2006

In the female psyche nowadays, “contradictions speckle the landscape, like ingrown hairs after a bad bikini wax.” So writes Laura Kipnis, author of the widely acclaimed polemic Against Love. With “the gleeful viperish wit of Dorothy Parker” (Slate), Kipnis now offers a fresh and provocative assessment of the female condition in the post-post-feminist world of the twenty-first century. For every advance toward sexual equality on the part of women in recent years, she argues, some new impediment just “seems” to appear. Ironically, feminism ran up against an unanticipated opponent: the inner woman.

An ambitious and original reassessment of feminism and women’s ambivalence about it, The Female Thing brims with bracing and funny social observations informed by psychological acuity. For all the upbeat “You go, girl” slogans, women remain caught between feminism and femininity, between self-affirmation and an endless quest for self-improvement, between playing the injured party and claiming independence. Feminism is bedeviled by the same impasses and contradictions it seeks to rectify. But rather than blaming the usual suspects–men, the media–Kipnis takes a hard look at culprits closer to home, namely women themselves and their complicity in upholding male privilege, even as they resent men deeply for it. Which makes relations between the sexes rather thorny at the moment, and Kipnis serves up the gory details of the mutual displeasure between men and women in painfully hilarious detail.

In the tradition of The Feminine Mystique and The Female Eunuch, this is a pathbreaking work. As audacious as it is historically and socially grounded, The Female Thing explores age-old quandaries: the war between the sexes, what women “really” want, and to what extent anatomy is destiny after all.

How to Become a Scandal: Adventures in Bad Behavior
ISBN: 0805089799

Metropolitan Books. 2010

A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice

We all relish a good scandal. Why do people feel compelled to act out their tangled psychodramas on the national stage, and why do we so enjoy watching them? The motifs are classic—revenge, betrayal, ambition, madness—though the pitfalls are ones we all negotiate daily. After all, every one of us is a potential scandal in the making: failed self-knowledge and colossal self-deception—the necessary ingredients—are our collective plight. How to Become a Scandal is “an extremely smart, funny, acid, and beautifully written meditation on a scary truth that we all try desperately to ignore” (David Shields, author of Reality Hunger: A Manifesto).



Speaking Engagements

Speaking Engagement Availability (Yes)