Household Words: Bloomers, Sucker, Bombshell, Scab, Nigger, Cyber

Household Words: Bloomers, Sucker, Bombshell, Scab, Nigger, Cyber

by Stephanie Smith
     
 

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ISBN-10: 0816645531

ISBN-13: 9780816645534

Pub. Date: 01/01/2006

Publisher: University of Minnesota Press

Looking in detail at words that “treat people as things, and things as people, and do so at that strange space where joking, ridiculing, demeaning, oppressing, resisting, and regretting converge,” Household Words is a study of how certain words act as indices of political and social change, perpetuating anxieties and prejudices even as those ways

Overview

Looking in detail at words that “treat people as things, and things as people, and do so at that strange space where joking, ridiculing, demeaning, oppressing, resisting, and regretting converge,” Household Words is a study of how certain words act as indices of political and social change, perpetuating anxieties and prejudices even as those ways of thinking have been seemingly resolved or overcome by history. 

Specifically, Stephanie A. Smith examines six words—bloomer, sucker, bombshell, scab, nigger, and cyber—and explores how these words with their contemporary “universal” meaning appeal to a dangerous idea about what it means to be human, an idea that denies our history of conflict. She traces “bombshell” from Marilyn Monroe through women’s liberation and the sexual revolution to Monica Lewinsky, “scab” from blemish to strikebreaker, “sucker” from lollipop to the routinely cheated. Exposing the ambiguities in each of the words, Smith reveals that our language is communal and cutting, democratic and discriminatory, social and psychological. 

Stephanie A. Smith is associate professor of English at the University of Florida and the author of Conceived by Liberty: Maternal Figures and Nineteenth-Century American Literature as well as three novels.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780816645534
Publisher:
University of Minnesota Press
Publication date:
01/01/2006
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
264
Product dimensions:
5.44(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.50(d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsxi
Introduction: Forgetting How to Readxv
Bloomers1
Sucker37
Bombshell69
Scab97
Nigger123
Cyber151
Notes171
Bibliography183
Index197

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