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FlirtationsRhetoric and Aesthetics This Side of Seduction$
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Daniel Hoffman-Schwartz, Barbara Natalie Nagel, and Lauren Shizuko Stone

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780823264896

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823264896.001.0001

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Three Terrors of Flirtation

Three Terrors of Flirtation

Chapter:
(p.101) Interlude: Three Terrors of Flirtation
Source:
Flirtations
Author(s):

Barbara Natalie Nagel

Publisher:
Fordham University Press
DOI:10.5422/fordham/9780823264896.003.0012

Nothing seems more harmless than a flirt. But then why at times do we feel the feeling of sheer terror? Why do people turn pale and flee when being flirted at? This chapter considers a range of examples, from Henry James and Thomas Mann to a particularly terrifying “missed connection” posted on Craigslist, in order to draw attention to the agonies of flirtation: anxiety and uncertainty, endlessness, and—for the male flirt, the most terrifying of all—the specter of feminine sovereignty. It argues that the suspension of authority, even briefly, triggered by flirtation is what makes it traumatic. Flirtation triggers this suspension because it does not show the same infatuation with authority that dominates the discourse of seduction.

Keywords:   flirtation, anxiety, uncertainty, feminine sovereignty, Henry James, Thomas Mann, Craigslist, seducation

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