The Virtues of the Vicious: Jacob Riis, Stephen Crane and the Spectacle of the Slum [NOOK Book]

Overview

In this compelling work, Keith Gandal reveals how the slum in nineteenth-century America, long a topic for sober moral analysis, became in the 1890s an unprecedented source of spectacle, captured in novels, newspapers, documentary accounts, and photographs. Reflecting a change in the middle-class vision of the poor, the slum no longer drew attention simply as a problem of social conditions and vice but emerged as a subject for aesthetic, ethnographic, and psychological description. From this period dates the ...
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The Virtues of the Vicious: Jacob Riis, Stephen Crane and the Spectacle of the Slum

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Overview

In this compelling work, Keith Gandal reveals how the slum in nineteenth-century America, long a topic for sober moral analysis, became in the 1890s an unprecedented source of spectacle, captured in novels, newspapers, documentary accounts, and photographs. Reflecting a change in the middle-class vision of the poor, the slum no longer drew attention simply as a problem of social conditions and vice but emerged as a subject for aesthetic, ethnographic, and psychological description. From this period dates the fascination with the "colorful" alternative customs and ethics of slum residents, and an emphasis on nurturing their self-steem. Middle-class portrayals of slum life as "strange and dangerous" formed part of a broad turn-of-the-century quest for masculinity, Gandal argues, a response to a sentimental Victorian respectability perceived as stifling. These changes in middle-class styles for representing the urban poor signalled a transformation in middle-class ethics and a reconception of subjectivity.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"An excellent book that should be welcomed by anyone interested in modern American thought."—Choice

"An important, provocative new perspective on the conjunction of social and literary history, one which will force a major rethinking of the place of realism in the making of modern American culture."—Eric Sundquist, Northwestern University

"Gandal has made an original, compelling case for rereading Riis and Crane as exemplars of a new style of reading, writing, and knowing the slum and the spectator's relation to it."—American Literature

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195354973
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 10/23/1997
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • File size: 966 KB

Meet the Author

Mount Saint Mary's College, Maryland
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Table of Contents

Introduction 3
Pt. I The New Ethnography of the Slum
1 Riis and Charity Writing 27
2 Crane and Slum Fiction 39
Pt. II Slum Spectacle
3 The Touristic Ethic and Photography 61
4 "In Search of Excitement": The Ethics of Entertainment 74
Pt. III Slum Psychology
5 Self-Esteem and the Tough 91
6 Psychological Moralities of the Slum 115
Afterword 130
Notes 139
References 193
Index 201
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