Cover

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. -iv

Title Page

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. v-viii

Contents

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. ix-x

read more

Acknowledgments

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. xi-xiv

I have been very lucky over the years to have friends and colleagues who have made writing this book almost as much fun as not writing it. At the University of Illinois, my colleagues and the graduate students I’ve been lucky enough to know have been models of how to create and develop projects that keep our teaching vital and our discipline lively...

read more

Introduction: Signs Taken for Blunders

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 1-30

This book began with a few relatively straightforward questions: how and when did middle-class white Americans begin to experience their class positions as less like a political condition or a structuring economic force and more like a culture, with its own set of practices and traditions...

read more

1. Mrs. Newlyrich on the Threshold: The Business of Etiquette Manuals

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 31-64

In William Dean Howells’s 1885 novel The Rise of Silas Lapham, the members of the Lapham family find themselves in something of a social quandary. They have been invited to dinner at the home of the wealthy Coreys, but they are, to put it bluntly, stumped. They don’t know how to answer the invitation, what to wear, when to arrive or leave...

read more

2. An Archive of Faux Pas: Reading Up on Print Culture

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 65-96

Spatial metaphors seem so perfectly apposite for discussions of class and status that it is easy to believe that there is a natural relationship between material and metaphorical social locations. At the turn into the twentieth century, people knew what it meant socially when others were described as “above” or “beneath” them, and they could fault people...

read more

3. Henry James and the Parvenus: Reading Taste in The Spoils of Poynton

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 97-124

In the last chapter, I ended by looking at a collection of realist novels that focused on the class movement of women. Those novels were more sympathetic than not to those women who were trying to move “up” and paid special attention to the crudeness and vulgarity of the upper classes the young woman hoped to join, assigning the protagonist...

read more

4. Above Oneself: Edith Wharton and the Arrivistes

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 125-158

In the first pages of Edith Wharton’s 1905 novel The House of Mirth, Lawrence Selden, observing Lily Bart, feels that “she must have cost a great deal to make, that a great many dull and ugly people must, in some mysterious way, have been sacrificed to produce her.". Marveling in this same scene at Lily’s ability to turn accident into good fortune...

read more

5. The Gender of the Parvenu

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 159-194

In the previous chapters of this book, I have looked at how the late nineteenth and early twentieth century’s interest in the parvenu braced realism’s investment in social and literary reading. I argued in particular that the realist novel developed a particularly attractive character — the full, rich individual — who was sponsored and paid for by her opposite...

read more

Epilogue: The Parvenu’s Plot

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 195-212

Many dark pleasures follow from writing about parvenus, especially in a culture in which awkwardly staged and televised social climbing is not only ubiquitous, it is apparently mandatory. I first envisioned this book as an exploration of realist interiority, believing that paying attention to the historical exchanges between social history...

Notes

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 213-232

Bibliography

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 233-240

Index

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 241-250