Lynching and Spectacle: Witnessing Racial Violence in America, 1890-1940 [NOOK Book]

Overview

Lynch mobs in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century America exacted horrifying public torture and mutilation on their victims. In Lynching and Spectacle, Amy Wood explains what it meant for white Americans to perform and witness these sadistic spectacles and how lynching played a role in establishing and affirming white supremacy. Lynching, Wood argues, overlapped with a variety of cultural practices and performances, both traditional and modern, including public executions, religious rituals, photography,...
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Lynching and Spectacle: Witnessing Racial Violence in America, 1890-1940

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Overview

Lynch mobs in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century America exacted horrifying public torture and mutilation on their victims. In Lynching and Spectacle, Amy Wood explains what it meant for white Americans to perform and witness these sadistic spectacles and how lynching played a role in establishing and affirming white supremacy. Lynching, Wood argues, overlapped with a variety of cultural practices and performances, both traditional and modern, including public executions, religious rituals, photography, and cinema, all which encouraged the horrific violence and gave it social acceptability. However, she also shows how the national dissemination of lynching images ultimately fueled the momentum of the antilynching movement and the decline of the practice. Using a wide range of sources, including photos, newspaper reports, pro- and antilynching pamphlets, early films, and local city and church records, Wood reconfigures our understanding of lynching's relationship to modern life.

Wood expounds on the critical role lynching spectacles played in establishing and affirming white supremacy at the turn of the century, particularly in towns and cities experiencing great social instability and change. She also shows how the national dissemination of lynching images fueled the momentum of the antilynching movement and ultimately led to the decline of lynching. By examining lynching spectacles alongside both traditional and modern practices and within both local and national contexts, Wood reconfigures our understanding of lynching's relationship to modern life.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The scholar interested in southern culture will find the book rewarding."
-Journal of Mississippi History

"This thoughtful and amply illustrated monograph shows how photography served first to cast atrocity as civility and subsequently undermined the practice of lynching by reconstruing what had become folk custom as, instead, an outrage."
-Arkansas Historical Quarterly

"The public nature of lynching receives heavily researched and imaginative treatment in Wood's readable analysis."
-Journal of Interdisciplinary History

"[A] thoughtful, well-researched study. . . . Wood has established the centrality of visual media to the formation of racial identities and the perpetuation of a related culture of lynching more cogently and elaborately than any previous writer. . . . Provocative and lucid. . . . A significant contribution to our understanding of race and racial violence in American history."
-Southern Quarterly

"Insightful. . . . One of the work's greatest strengths is the interplay between local and national contexts. . . . An excellent example of how visual culture and theory can enhance historical research without obscuring the argument. . . . Recommended for historians interested in how race and violence worked together to shape popular culture, and vice versa."
-Indiana Magazine of History

"Lynching and Spectacle is a work of both impressive analysis and serious historical craft that makes a number of important contributions to our understanding of the American South and violence there. Combining attention to place, time, and context with an acute sensitivity to cultural expression, ranging from photography and film to journalism, Wood has written the most mature, finely grained, and insightful study of the culture of lynching available."—W. Fitzhugh Brundage, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807878118
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 4/30/2009
  • Series: New Directions in Southern Studies
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 951,975
  • File size: 5 MB

Meet the Author

Amy Louise Wood is associate professor of history at Illinois State University.
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