Woodslane Online Catalogues
Bodies of Reform
The Rhetoric of Character in Gilded Age America
- From the patricians of the early republic to post-Reconstruction racial scientists, from fin de siecle progressivist social reformers to post-war sociologists, character, that curiously formable yet equally formidable "stuff," 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 "character" 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.
- Acknowledgments Introduction: "The Grandest Thing in the World" 1 Philanthropic Taste: Race and Character in Herman Melville's The Confidence-Man 2 Character Is Capital: Manufacturing Habit in Mark Twain's Character Factory 3 Muscle Memory: Building the Body Politic of Character in Charlotte Perkins Gilman and the National Police Gazette 4 "A Story Written on Her Face": Pauline Hopkins's Unmaking of the Inherited Character of Race 5 Character's Conduct: Spaces of Interethnic Emulation in Jane Addams's "Charitable Effort" Notes IndexAbout the Author
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