Bodies of Reform

Bodies of Reform

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From the patricians of the early republic to post-Reconstruction racial scientists, from fin de siAucle progressivist social reformers to post-war sociologists, character, that curiously formable yet equally formidable a€œstuff, a€ has had a long and checkered history giving shape to the American national identity. Bodies of Reform reconceives this pivotal category of nineteenth-century literature and culture by charting the development of the concept of a€œcharactera€ in the fictional genres, social reform movements, and political cultures of the United States from the mid-nineteenth to the early-twentieth century. By reading novelists such as Herman Melville, Mark Twain, Pauline Hopkins, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman alongside a diverse collection of texts concerned with the mission of building character, including child-rearing guides, muscle-building magazines, libel and naturalization law, Scout handbooks, and success manuals, James B. Salazar uncovers how the cultural practices of representing character operated in tandem with the character-building strategies of social reformers. His innovative reading of this archive offers a radical revision of this defining category in U.S. literature and culture, arguing that character was the keystone of a cultural politics of embodiment, a politics that played a critical role in determining-and contesting-the social mobility, political authority, and cultural meaning of the raced and gendered body.Not only was character portrayed in early character-building manuals by John Todd and Rufus Clark as a unique kind of ... in cartoons such as a€œMr. Slima#39;s Developments in Physical Culturea€ from Balloua#39;s Dollar Monthly Magazine that mockedanbsp;...

Title:Bodies of Reform
Author:James B. Salazar
Publisher:NYU Press - 2010-09-13


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