Personal Property: Wives, White Slaves, and the Market in Women

Overview

In Personal Property, Margit Stange analyzes white slavery literature in relation to other key American writings of the time by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Edith Wharton, Jane Addams, and Kate Chopin. The anthropological theory of the exchange of women developed by nineteenth-century anthropologists—in whose view, as Thorstein Veblen put it, woman is the original private property—informs white slavery depictions of racialized, enslaved female bodies. Similarly, Stange argues, this theory is reflected in literature,...

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Overview

In Personal Property, Margit Stange analyzes white slavery literature in relation to other key American writings of the time by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Edith Wharton, Jane Addams, and Kate Chopin. The anthropological theory of the exchange of women developed by nineteenth-century anthropologists—in whose view, as Thorstein Veblen put it, woman is the original private property—informs white slavery depictions of racialized, enslaved female bodies. Similarly, Stange argues, this theory is reflected in literature, in journalism, and in the feminist and Progressivist reform rhetoric of the early twentieth century, when social relations were transformed by capitalist expansion. She explores Progressive Era nativist and anti-business reactions, anxieties about the seductive pull of consumerism, the "social housekeeping" movement, and women's struggle for identity and professional stature in the U.S. marketplace economy of the early twentieth century.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Editorial Reviews

American Literature - Eric Henderson

Personal Property represents a valuable and insightful contribution to the study of gender, commodity marketing, and aesthetics, and of their complex interplay during the first two decades in the twentieth-century United States.

Booknews
Readers in the early 20th century witnessed an explosion of lurid stories and tracts proclaiming that thousands of young women were being abducted and sold into forced prostitution. This study analyzes white slavery literature in relation to other key American writings of the time by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Edith Wharton, Jane Addams, and Kate Chopin. Explores the nativist and antibusiness fears of the Progressive Era, the fear that consumerism was corrupting maternal and wifely roles, and women's struggle for identity and professional stature. Includes b&w illustrations. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801872549
  • Publisher: Hopkins Fulfillment Service
  • Publication date: 9/1/2002
  • Pages: 188
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.43 (d)

Meet the Author

Margit Stange is an independent scholar.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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