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Women's Studies, Gender, and Sexuality

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Amending the Abject Body Cover

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Amending the Abject Body

Aesthetic Makeovers in Medicine and Culture

Feminist theorists have often argued that aesthetic surgeries and body makeovers dehumanize and disempower women patients, whose efforts at self-improvement lead to their objectification. Amending the Abject Body proposes that although objectification is an important element in this phenomenon, the explosive growth of “makeover culture” can be understood as a process of both abjection (ridding ourselves of the unwanted) and identification (joining the community of what Julia Kristeva calls “clean and proper bodies”). Drawing from the advertisement and advocacy of body makeovers on television, in aesthetic surgery trade books, and in the print and Web-based marketing of face lifts, tummy tucks, and Botox injections, Deborah Caslav Covino articulates the relationship among objectification, abjection, and identification, and offers a fuller understanding of contemporary beauty-desire.

America the Middlebrow Cover

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America the Middlebrow

Women's Novels, Progressivism, and the Middlebrow Authorship between the Wars

Jaime Harker

Between the two world wars, American publishing entered a "golden age" characterized by an explosion of new publishers, authors, audiences, distribution strategies, and marketing techniques. The period was distinguished by a diverse literary culture, ranging from modern cultural rebels to working-class laborers, political radicals, and progressive housewives. In America the Middlebrow, Jaime Harker focuses on one neglected mode of authorship in the interwar period—women's middlebrow authorship and its intersection with progressive politics. With the rise of middlebrow institutions and readers came the need for the creation of the new category of authorship. Harker contends that these new writers appropriated and adapted a larger tradition of women's activism and literary activity to their own needs and practices. Like sentimental women writers and readers of the 1850s, these authors saw fiction as a means of reforming and transforming society. Like their Progressive Era forebears, they replaced religious icons with nationalistic images of progress and pragmatic ideology. In the interwar period, this mode of authorship was informed by Deweyan pragmatist aesthetics, which insisted that art provided vicarious experience that could help create humane, democratic societies. Drawing on letters from publishers, editors, agents, and authors, America the Middlebrow traces four key moments in this distinctive culture of letters through the careers of Dorothy Canfield, Jessie Fauset, Pearl Buck, and Josephine Herbst. Both an exploration of a virtually invisible culture of letters and a challenge to monolithic paradigms of modernism, the book offers fresh insight into the ongoing tradition of political domestic fiction that flourished between the wars.

American Grit Cover

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American Grit

A Woman's Letters from the Ohio Frontier

edited by Emily Foster

In 1826 thirty-year-old Anna Briggs Bentley, her husband, and their six children left their close Quaker community and the worn-out tobacco farms of Sandy Spring, Maryland, for frontier Ohio. Along the way, Anna sent back home the first of scores of letters she wrote her mother and sisters over the next fifty years as she strove to keep herself and her children in their memories. With Anna's natural talent for storytelling and her unique, female perspective, the letters provide a sustained and vivid account of everyday domestic life on the Ohio frontier. She writes of carving a farm out of the forest, bearing many children, darning and patching the family clothes, standing her ground in religious controversy, nursing wounds and fevers, and burying beloved family and friends. Emily Foster presents these revealing letters of a pioneer woman in a framework of insightful commentary and historical context, with genealogical appendices.

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The American Isherwood

James J. Berg

Novelist, memoirist, diarist, and gay pioneer Christopher Isherwood left a wealth of writings. Known for his crisp style and his camera-like precision with detail, Isherwood gained fame for his Berlin Stories, which served as source material for the hit stage musical and Academy Award–winning film Cabaret. More recently, his experiences and career in the United States have received increased attention. His novel A Single Man was adapted into an Oscar-nominated film; his long relationship with the artist Don Bachardy, with whom he shared an openly gay lifestyle, was the subject of an award-winning documentary, Chris & Don: A Love Story; and his memoir, Christopher and His Kind, was adapted for the BBC.

Isherwood’s colorful journeys took him from post–World War I England to Weimar Germany to European exile to Golden Age Hollywood to Los Angeles in the full flower of gay liberation. After the publication of his diaries, which run to more than one million words and span nearly a half century, it is possible to fully assess his influence. This collection of essays considers Isherwood’s diaries, his vast personal archive, and his published works and offers a multifaceted appreciation of a writer who spent more than half of his life in southern California. James J. Berg and Chris Freeman have brought together the most informative scholarship of the twenty-first century to illuminate the craft of one of the singular figures of the twentieth century. Isherwood, the American, emerges from the shadow of his English reputation to stake his claim as a significant force in late twentieth-century American culture whose legacy continues in the twenty-first century.

Contributors: Joshua Adair, Murray State U; Jamie Carr, Niagara U; Robert L. Caserio, Pennsylvania State U; Niladri Chatterjee, U of Kalyani, India; Lisa Colletta, American U of Rome; Lois Cucullu, U of Minnesota; Mario Faraone; Peter Edgerly Firchow; Rebecca Gordon Stewart; William R. Handley, U of Southern California; Jaime Harker, U of Mississippi; Sara S. Hodson, Huntington Library; Carola M. Kaplan, California State U, Pomona; Benjamin Kohlmann, U of Freiburg, Germany; Victor Marsh, U of Queensland; Tina Mascara; Stephen McCauley; Paul M. McNeil, Columbia U; Guido Santi, College of the Canyons, California; Kyle Stevens, Brandeis U.

American Melancholy Cover

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American Melancholy

Constructions of Depression in the Twentieth Century

Laura D. Hirshbein

In American Melancholy, Laura D. Hirshbein traces the growth of depression as an object of medical study and as a consumer commodity and illustrates how and why depression came to be such a huge medical, social, and cultural phenomenon. This is the first book to address gender issues in the construction of depression, explores key questions of how its diagnosis was developed, how it has been used, and how we should question its application in American society.

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American Muslim Women, Religious Authority, and Activism

More Than a Prayer

By Juliane Hammer

Examining the intellectual output of female American Muslim writers and scholars since 1990, Hammer demonstrates that the themes at the heart of women’s writings are central to the debates of modern Islam worldwide.

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The American New Woman Revisited

A Reader, 1894-1930

Edited by Martha H. Patterson

In North America between 1894 and 1930, the rise of the "New Woman" sparked controversy on both sides of the Atlantic and around the world. As she demanded a public voice as well as private fulfillment through work, education, and politics, American journalists debated and defined her. Who was she and where did she come from? Was she to be celebrated as the agent of progress or reviled as a traitor to the traditional family? Over time, the dominant version of the American New Woman became typified as white, educated, and middle class: the suffragist, progressive reformer, and bloomer-wearing bicyclist. By the 1920s, the jazz-dancing flapper epitomized her. Yet she also had many other faces. Bringing together a diverse range of essays from the periodical press of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Martha H. Patterson shows how the New Woman differed according to region, class, politics, race, ethnicity, and historical circumstance. In addition to the New Woman's prevailing incarnations, she appears here as a gun-wielding heroine, imperialist symbol, assimilationist icon, entrepreneur, socialist, anarchist, thief, vamp, and eugenicist. Together, these readings redefine our understanding of the New Woman and her cultural impact.

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American Pietàs

Visions of Race, Death, and the Maternal

Ruby C. Tapia

In American Pietàs, Ruby C. Tapia reveals how visual representations of racialized motherhood shape and reflect national citizenship. By means of a sustained engagement with Roland Barthes’s suturing of race, death, and the maternal in Camera Lucida, Tapia contends that the contradictory essence of the photograph is both as a signifier of death and a guarantor of resurrection.

Tapia explores the implications of this argument for racialized productions of death and the maternal in the context of specific cultural moments: the commemoration of Princess Diana in U.S. magazines; the intertext of Toni Morrison’s and Hollywood’s Beloved; the social and cultural death in teen pregnancy, imaged and regulated in California’s Partnership for Responsible Parenting campaigns; and popular constructions of the “Widows of 9/11” in print and televisual journalism.

Taken together, these various visual media texts function in American Pietàs as cultural artifacts and as visual nodes in a larger network of racialized productions of maternal bodies in contexts of national death and remembering. To engage this network is to ask how and toward what end the racial project of the nation imbues some maternal bodies with resurrecting power and leaves others for dead. In the spaces between these different maternities, says Tapia, U.S. citizen-subjects are born—and reborn.

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American Socialist Triptych

The Literary-Political Work of Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Upton Sinclair, and W. E. B. Du Bois

Mark W. Van Wienen

"A meticulously researched, highly informed, carefully argued, and very accessible account of American socialism, socialists, and socialistic thinking, from the late nineteenth century through the 1960s . . . challenges the intellectual and political legacy of Werner Sombart's Why Is There No Socialism in the United States?, whose spirit still hovers over animated discussions about the 'failures' of socialism in the United States." ---James A. Miller, George Washington University "A valuable rethinking and reframing of the traditions of leftist literary scholarship in the U.S." ---Sylvia Cook, University of Missouri, St. Louis American Socialist Triptych: The Literary-Political Work of Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Upton Sinclair, and W. E. B. Du Bois explores the contributions of three writers to the development of American socialism over a fifty--year period and asserts the vitality of socialism in modern American literature and culture. Drawing upon a wide range of texts including archival sources, Mark W. Van Wienen demonstrates the influence of reform-oriented, democratic socialism both in the careers of these writers and in U.S. politics between 1890 and 1940. While offering unprecedented in-depth analysis of modern American socialist literature, this book charts the path by which the supposedly impossible, dangerous ideals of a cooperative commonwealth were realized, in part, by the New Deal. American Socialist Triptych provides in-depth, innovative readings of the featured writers and their engagement with socialist thought and action. Upton Sinclair represents the movement's most visible manifestation, the Socialist Party of America, founded in 1901; Charlotte Perkins Gilman reflects the socialist elements in both feminism and 1890s reform movements, and W. E. B. Du Bois illuminates social democratic aspirations within the NAACP. Van Wienen's book seeks to re-energize studies of Sinclair by treating him as a serious cultural figure whose career peaked not in the early success of The Jungle but in his nearly successful 1934 run for the California governorship. It also demonstrates as never before the centrality of socialism throughout Gilman's and Du Bois's literary and political careers. More broadly, American Socialist Triptych challenges previous scholarship on American radical literature, which has focused almost exclusively on the 1930s and Communist writers. Van Wienen argues that radical democracy was not the phenomenon of a decade or of a single group but a sustained tradition dispersed within the culture, providing a useful genealogical explanation for how socialist ideas were actually implemented through the New Deal. American Socialist Triptych also revises modern American literary history, arguing for the endurance of realist and utopian literary modes at the height of modernist literary experimentation and showing the importance of socialism not only to the three featured writers but also to their peers, including Edward Bellamy, Hamlin Garland, Jack London, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Claude McKay. Further, by demonstrating the importance of social democratic thought to feminist and African American campaigns for equality, the book dialogues with recent theories of radical egalitarianism. Readers interested in American literature, U.S. history, political theory, and race, gender, and class studies will all find in American Socialist Triptych a valuable and provocative resource.

American Women and Flight since 1940 Cover

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American Women and Flight since 1940

Deborah G. Douglas

Women run wind tunnel experiments, direct air traffic, and fabricate airplanes. American women have been involved with flight from the beginning, but until 1940, most people believed women could not fly, that Amelia Earhart was an exception to the rule. World War II changed everything. "It is on the record thatwomen can fly as well as men," stated General Henry H. Arnold, commanding general of the Army Air Forces. The question became "Should women fly?" Deborah G. Douglas tells the story of this ongoing debate and its impact on American history. From Jackie Cochran, whose perseverance led to the formation of the Women's Army Service Pilots (WASP) during World War II to the recent achievements of Jeannie Flynn, the Air Force's first woman fighter pilot and Eileen Collins, NASA's first woman shuttle commander, Douglas introduces a host of determined women who overcame prejudice and became military fliers, airline pilots, and air and space engineers. Not forgotten are stories of flight attendants, air traffic controllers, and mechanics. American Women and Flight since 1940 is a revised and expanded edition of a Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum reference work. Long considered the single best reference work in the field, this new edition contains extensive new illustrations and a comprehensive bibliography.

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