Typecasting: On the Arts and Sciences of Human Inequality

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9781583227350: Typecasting: On the Arts and Sciences of Human Inequality
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Typecasting chronicles the emergence of the "science of first impression" and reveals how the work of its creators—early social scientists—continues to shape how we see the world and to inform our most fundamental and unconscious judgments of beauty, humanity, and degeneracy. In this groundbreaking exploration of the growth of stereotyping amidst the rise of modern society, authors Ewen & Ewen demonstrate "typecasting" as a persistent cultural practice. Drawing on fields as diverse as history, pop culture, racial science, and film, and including over one hundred images, many published here for the first time, the authors present a vivid portrait of stereotyping as it was forged by colonialism, industrialization, mass media, urban life, and the global economy.

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About the Author:

EWEN & EWEN is an authorial sobriquet assumed by Stuart Ewen and Elizabeth Ewen in no particular order. Elizabeth Ewen is Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Department of American Studies at SUNY College at Old Westbury. Stuart Ewen is CUNY Distinguished Professor of Film & Media Studies at Hunter College and in the Ph.D. Programs in History and Sociology at The CUNY Graduate Center.

From Publishers Weekly:

This fascinating if overly ambitious study examines the rise of stereotyping in modern society and how the mainstream stereotypes the "other"—whether black, Jewish, gay, disabled, etc.—to maintain social order. Ewen & Ewen—the pseudonym of Elizabeth and Stuart Ewen, professors, respectively, of American studies and film and media studies—have amassed a huge amount of material across a broad spectrum of disciplines, all providing concrete examples of how Western culture, beginning in the mid-18th century with the study of physiognomy (the evaluation of character based on facial features), has consciously created visual, verbal, scientific and artistic cues to identify those outside of the dominant culture. The Ewens' research is prodigious and their examples eclectic—silent star Mary Pickford's film persona and notions of femininity, the social philosophy behind Roget's Thesaurus, blackface and minstrel shows, and George W. Bush's rhetoric on Iraq—and this mass of information is extremely well organized thematically. While the Ewens' writing is clear and compelling, the overall effect can be overwhelming, and often the nuances get lost. Still, this is a terrific volume that will be eye-opening to academics and general readers alike. B&w illus. (Sept.)
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