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Acts of Conspicuous Compassion
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Acts of Conspicuous Compassion investigates the relationship between performance culture and the cultivation of charitable sentiment in America, exploring the distinctive practices that have evolved to make the plea for charity legible and compelling. From the work of 19th-century melodramas to the televised drama of transformation and redemption in reality TV’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Acts of Conspicuous Compassion charts the sophisticated strategies employed by various charity movements responsible for making organized benevolence alluring, exciting, and seemingly uncomplicated. Sheila C. Moeschen brokers a new way of accounting for the legacy and involvement of disabled people within charity—specifically, the articulation of performance culture as a vital theoretical framework for discussing issues of embodiment and identity dislodges previously held notions of the disabled existing as passive, “objects” of pity. This work gives rise to a more complicated and nuanced discussion of the participation of the disabled community in the charity industry, of the opportunities afforded by performance culture for disabled people to act as critical agents of charity, and of the new ethical and political issues that arise from employing performance methodology in a culture with increased appetites for voyeurism, display, and complex spectacle.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
  2. pp. 1-1
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  1. Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
  2. pp. 2-7
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  1. Contents
  2. pp. vii-9
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  1. Introduction
  2. pp. 1-17
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  1. Chapter 1. Dramatizing Distress: Sentimental Culture, Melodrama, and Nineteenth-Century Reform for the Deaf/Dumb and Blind
  2. pp. 18-48
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  1. Chapter 2. Spectacular Benevolence: Theatricalizing the War on Polio with the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis (NFIP), 1934 - 1945
  2. pp. 49-87
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  1. Chapter 3. Wheelchairs and One-Liners: Televising Need in the Charity Telethon
  2. pp. 88-127
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  1. Chapter 4. Acts of Conspicuous Compassion: Charity in the Reality TV Era: "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition"
  2. pp. 128-151
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  1. Conclusion
  2. pp. 152-165
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  1. Notes
  2. pp. 167-181
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  1. Bibliography
  2. pp. 183-203
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  1. Index
  2. pp. 205-209
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