Bodies of Reform: The Rhetoric of Character in Gilded Age America (America and the Long 19th Century)

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Part of the American Literatures Initiative Series    From the patricians of the early republic to post-Reconstruction racial scientists, from fin de siècle 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.

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About the Author:

James B. Salazar is Assistant Professor of English at Temple University.

Review:

“Salazar’s splendid study gives this term a cultural history, and in the process shows how the rhetoric of character has profound effects on what we do from child-rearing, to physical exercise, to racial exclusion, to immigrant inclusion, and the contours of democratic citizenship itself.”
-Karen Sánchez-Eppler,Amherst College



"This detailed and carefully argued book charts the development of character...drawing on a rich archive of primary sources."-William Gleason,The Journal of American History

"A comprehensive and original study of the various ways the rhetoric of character appeared in American culture."-Debra Bernardi,American Literary Realism

"Dense and thought-provoking."-J.J. Benardete,Choice

"[Salazar] ably integrates an impressive array of materials into his readings." -New England Quarterly

“James Salazar takes the term ‘character’—pervasive and elusive—and accounts for its centrality by showing how it embodies the contradictions of modern America. In a series of intricate literary readings, he analyzes the ways in which the late-nineteenth-century obsession with building ‘character’ vivified social distinctions but also, in its instabilities, became the pivot for critique.”
-Samuel Otter,University of California, Berkeley

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9780814741313: Bodies of Reform: The Rhetoric of Character in Gilded Age America (America and the Long 19th Century)

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Book Description New York University Press, United States, 2010. Hardback. Condition: New. New.. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****. 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. Seller Inventory # APC9780814741306

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Book Description NYU Press. Hardcover. Condition: New. 304 pages. Dimensions: 9.1in. x 6.0in. x 0.9in.From the patricians of the early republic to post-Reconstruction racial scientists, from fin de sicle 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. This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. Hardcover. Seller Inventory # 9780814741306

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