American Archives: Gender, Race, and Class in Visual Culture / Edition 1

American Archives: Gender, Race, and Class in Visual Culture / Edition 1

by Shawn Michelle Smith
     
 

ISBN-10: 0691004781

ISBN-13: 9780691004785

Pub. Date: 11/29/1999

Publisher: Princeton University Press

Visual texts uniquely demonstrate the contested terms of American identity. In American Archives Shawn Michelle Smith offers a bold and disturbing account of how photography and the sciences of biological racialism joined forces in the nineteenth century to offer an idea of what Americans look like—or "should" look like. Her varied sources, which

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Overview

Visual texts uniquely demonstrate the contested terms of American identity. In American Archives Shawn Michelle Smith offers a bold and disturbing account of how photography and the sciences of biological racialism joined forces in the nineteenth century to offer an idea of what Americans look like—or "should" look like. Her varied sources, which include the middle-class portrait, baby picture, criminal mugshot, and eugenicist record, as well as literary, scientific, and popular texts, enable her to demonstrate how new visual paradigms posed bodily appearance as an index to interior "essence." Ultimately we see how competing preoccupations over gender, class, race, and American identity were played out in the making of a wide range of popular and institutional photographs.

Smith demonstrates that as the body was variously mapped and defined as the key to essentialized identities, the image of the white middle-class woman was often held up as the most complete American ideal. She begins by studying gendered images of middle-class domesticity to expose a transformation of feminine architectures of interiority into the "essences" of "blood," "character," and "race." She reads visual documents, as well as literary texts by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Pauline Hopkins, and Theodore Dreiser, as both indices of and forms of resistance to dominant images of gender, class, race, and national identity. Through this analysis Smith shows how the white male gaze that sought to define and constrain white women and people of color was contested and transformed over the course of the nineteenth century.

Smith identifies nineteenth-century visual paradigms that continue to shape debates about the terms of American belonging today. American Archives contributes significantly to the growing field of American visual cultural studies, and it is unprecedented in explaining how practices of racialized looking and the parameters of "American looks" were established in the first place.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691004785
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
11/29/1999
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
302
Product dimensions:
6.11(w) x 9.24(h) x 0.84(d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix

Acknowledgments xii

Introduction American Archives 3

Chapter One Prying Eyes and Middle-Class Magic in The House of the Seven Gables 11

"Magnetic" Daguerreotypes and the Masculine Gaze 12

Evil Eyes and Feminine Essence 19

Making the House a Home 24

The Public Private Sphere 26

Chapter Two The Properties of Blood 29

The Blood That Flows in Subterranean Pipes 31

Blood, Character, and Race 41

The Spectacle of Race 45

Seeing Bloodlines 47

Chapter Three Superficial Depths 51

The Portrait and the Likeness. Photographing the Soul 55

Class Acts: Real Things and True Performances 62

The Criminal Body and the Portrait of a Type 68

Consuming Commodities: Gender in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction 93

Chapter Four "Baby's Picture Is Always Treasured": Eugenics and the Reproduction of Whiteness in the Family Photograph Album 113

Mechanically Reproducing Baby 115

Reproducing Racial Inheritance 122

Sentimental Aura and the Evidence of Race 132

Chapter Five America Coursing through Her Veins 136

From the Bonds of Love to Bloodlines 137

America's White Aristocracy 141

In the Name of White Womanhood 144

"A Heritage Unique in the Ages" 150

Chapter Six Photographing the "American Negro": Nation, Race, and Photography at the Paris Exposition of 1900 157

Racialized Bodies, National Character, and Photographic Documentation 158

Making Americans 167

Conserving Race in the Nation 177

Chapter Seven Looking Back: Pauline Hopkins's Challenge to Eugenics 187

Envisioning Race: Bodies on Display in Hagar's Daughter "Sons of One Father" 194

Excavating the Hidden Self 198

Visions beyond the Color Line 203

Chapter Eight Reconfiguring a Masculine Gaze 206

Visions of Commodified Identity in Consumer Culture 207

Conspicuous Consumption under a Masculine Gaze: Rethinking Gender in Sister Carrie 210

Parting Glances 220

Afterimages A Brief Look at American Visual Culture in the 1990s 222

Notes 227

Bibliography 271

Index 291

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