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Au Naturel

Au Naturel

Naturism, Nudism, and Tourism in Twentieth-Century France
Stephen L. Harp, Au Naturel. Naturism, Nudism, and Tourism in Twentieth-Century France, Louisiana, LSU Press, 2014, 336 p., ISBN : 9780807155257.
Notice publiée le 21 avril 2015

Présentation de l'éditeur

Each year in France approximately 1.5 million people practice naturisme or “naturism,” an activity more commonly referred to as “nudism.” Because of France’s unique tolerance for public nudity, the country also hosts hundreds of thousands of nudists from other European nations, an influx that has contributed to the most extensive infrastructure for nude tourism in the world. In Au Naturel, historian Stephen L. Harp explores how the evolution of European tourism encouraged public nudity in France, connecting this cultural shift with important changes in both individual behaviors and collective understandings of the body, morality, and sexuality.
Harp’s study, the first in-depth historical analysis of nudism in France, challenges widespread assumptions that “sexual liberation” freed people from “repression,” a process ostensibly reflected in the growing number of people practicing public nudity. Instead, he contends, naturism gained social acceptance because of the bodily control required to participate in it. New social codes emerged governing appropriate nudist behavior, including where one might look, how to avoid sexual excitation, what to wear when cold, and whether even the most modest displays of affection—-including hand-holding and pecks on the cheek—were permissible between couples.

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Stephen L. Harp

Professor of history and French at the University of Akron and is the author of Marketing Michelin: Advertising and Cultural Identity in Twentieth-Century France and Learning to Be Loyal: Primary Schooling as Nation Building in Alsace and Lorraine, 1850–1940.

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