Too Much: How Victorian Constraints Still Bind Women Today (Paperback)
Lacing cultural criticism, Victorian literature, and storytelling together, "TOO MUCH spills over: with intellect, with sparkling prose, and with the brainy arguments of Vorona Cote, who posits that women are all, in some way or another, still susceptible to being called too much." (Esmé Weijun Wang)
A weeping woman is a monster. So too is a fat woman, a horny woman, a woman shrieking with laughter. Women who are one or more of these things have heard, or perhaps simply intuited, that we are repugnantly excessive, that we have taken illicit liberties to feel or fuck or eat with abandon. After bellowing like a barn animal in orgasm, hoovering a plate of mashed potatoes, or spraying out spit in the heat of expostulation, we've flinched-ugh, that was so gross. I am so gross. On rare occasions, we might revel in our excess--belting out anthems with our friends over karaoke, perhaps--but in the company of less sympathetic souls, our uncertainty always returns. A woman who is Too Much is a woman who reacts to the world with ardent intensity is a woman familiar to lashes of shame and disapproval, from within as well as without.
Written in the tradition of Shrill, Dead Girls, Sex Object and other frank books about the female gaze, TOO MUCH encourages women to reconsider the beauty of their excesses-emotional, physical, and spiritual. Rachel Vorona Cote braids cultural criticism, theory, and storytelling together in her exploration of how culture grinds away our bodies, souls, and sexualities, forcing us into smaller lives than we desire. An erstwhile Victorian scholar, she sees many parallels between that era's fixation on women's "hysterical" behavior and our modern policing of the same; in the space of her writing, you're as likely to encounter Jane Eyre and Lizzie Bennet as you are Britney Spears and Lana Del Rey.
This book will tell the story of how women, from then and now, have learned to draw power from their reservoirs of feeling, all that makes us "Too Much."
About the Author
Rachel Vorona Cote publishes frequently in such outlets as the New Republic, Longreads, Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, Literary Hub, Catapult, the Poetry Foundation, Hazlitt, and the Los Angeles Review of Books, where her essay on Taylor Swift and Victorian female friendship was one of the site's most read essays in 2015. She was also previously a contributing writer at Jezebel. Rachel holds a BA from the College of William and Mary and was ABD in a doctoral program in English at the University of Maryland, studying and teaching the literature of the Victorian period. She and her husband live in Takoma Park, MD, just outside of Washington, D.C..
"Too Much defies easy categorization. It is as much a memoir as a work of impressive scholarship; it is as comfortable parsing the cultural meaning surrounding Britney Spears' public disintegration as it is analyzing the feminine mores conveyed in obscure 18th-century texts aimed at improving girls and women."—Washington Independent Review of Books
"In a writing style that's part academic, part personal essay, Cote exposes her own struggles with 'too muchness,' from her bisexuality to self-harm to body image, while synthesizing a woman's place within the cultural context of femininity. Consider it required reading for feminists of all genders."—Baltimore Magazine
"Calling all women and people who love them: This comprehensive book perfectly interweaves academic scholarship, engaging storytelling, and extremely convincing arguments that will convert even those who think suffrage solved all of our problems. Anyone who has ever been told to sit down, shush, and that little girls should be seen and not heard, this one's for you."—Good Housekeeping
"[Too Much is] written with passion for the subject and sustained attention, full of compelling prose and observations that will surely resonate with any woman familiar with straining against the edges of the shape she's expected to fit in."—Washington City Paper
"Cote, a former Victorian scholar, laces together cultural criticism, history, memoir, and theory in her debut work of nonfiction."—The Millions
"Vorona Cote weaves historical representation, theories and storytelling into a well-researched and timely novel."—Shereads.com
"Too Much is for all women who've been haunted, taunted and shamed for their emotions, joy, anger, laughter, sexuality or any other sort of excessive be-ing."—Ms. Magazine
"Readers whose tastes run from George Eliot to Lorde will embrace the book's feminist message."—Publishers Weekly
"[Vorona Cote] knows better than most how Victorian-era standards have been weaponized against fictional and real-life women, including Jane Eyre and Britney Spears, who have chosen freedom over conformity."—Bitch Magazine
"TOO MUCH spills over: with intellect, with sparkling prose, and with the brainy arguments of Vorona Cote, who posits that women are all, in some way or another, still susceptible to being called too much. Whether referring to Alice in Wonderland or Jessica Jones, self-harm or infidelity, this smart book dares women to find themselves within its pages, and to breathe a sigh of relief and recognition as they close the final page."—Esmé Weijun Wang, New York Times bestselling author of The Collected Schizophrenias
"Too Much is as lusty as a crush, as smart as a library, as exhilarating as an ocean breeze, as cathartic as shower-crying, as satisfying as eating a whole pint of ice cream, and as euphoria-inducing as taking off your bra at the end of a long day. Rachel Vorona Cote combines her expert knowledge of Victorian literature with wit, generosity, and feminist fire to write a hard-won and rousing defense of larger-than-life womanhood. If you ever feel like you have excessive feelings, desires, appetites, volume (loudness), volume (size), tears, or years, then this book is the book for you!"—Briallen Hopper, author of Hard to Love
"A fascinating exploration of how literature and pop culture have constructed (and exploded) our expectations of modern womanhood, this book is as gloriously defiant as the women it profiles. It's a necessary read for anyone who's ever wondered whether her 'muchness' is too much."—Robin Wasserman, author of Mother Daughter Widow Wife
"Too Much is such a fascinating, infuriating, and delightful addition to our understanding of unruliness, past and present, public and private. Cote combines the precision and wonder of the historian with the deft, accessible touch of the ex-academic. This book is a work of protest, but it is also one of deep, undeniable beauty."—Anne Helen Petersen, author of Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud
"Rachel Vorona Cote's debut is a whip-smart fusion of cultural criticism and deeply compelling personal narrative, packed with insights on everything from wedding bands to mental illness. Exploring all the many ways women have been bound and limited throughout history and into our current moment, Too Much is ultimately a joyful, satisfying, and educational celebration of women and their beautiful excesses."—Julie Buntin, author of Marlena
"Rachel Vorona Cote has written across centuries to highlight a historical problem that is still very prevalent, yet the writing is as entertaining as is it enlightening. Too Much pulls together some of our most important cultural touchstones, from Jane Eyre to Lana Del Rey, and seats them together for a lively discussion that has me reconsidering so much of what I've watched, listened to, and read."—Jason Diamond, author of Searching for John Hughes