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American Archives : Gender, Race and Class in Visual Culture

American Archives : Gender, Race and Class in Visual Culture - 99 edition

American Archives : Gender, Race and Class in Visual Culture - 99 edition

ISBN13: 9780691004785

ISBN10: 0691004781

American Archives : Gender, Race and Class in Visual Culture by Shawn M. Smith - ISBN 9780691004785
Edition: 99
Copyright: 1999
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Published: 1999
International: No
American Archives : Gender, Race and Class in Visual Culture by Shawn M. Smith - ISBN 9780691004785

ISBN13: 9780691004785

ISBN10: 0691004781

Edition: 99


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.

Author Bio

Smith, Shawn M. : Washington State University

Shawn Michelle Smith is Assistant Professor of English and American Studies at Washington State University.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Introduction American Archives

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

''Magnetic'' Daguerreotypes and the Masculine Gaze
Evil Eyes and Feminine Essence
Making the House a Home
The Public Private Sphere

Chapter Two The Properties of Blood

The Blood That Flows in Subterranean Pipes
Blood, Character, and Race
The Spectacle of Race
Seeing Bloodlines

Chapter Three Superficial Depths

The Portrait and the Likeness. Photographing the Soul
Class Acts: Real Things and True Performances
The Criminal Body and the Portrait of a Type
Consuming Commodities: Gender in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

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

Mechanically Reproducing Baby
Reproducing Racial Inheritance
Sentimental Aura and the Evidence of Race

Chapter Five America Coursing through Her Veins

From the Bonds of Love to Bloodlines
America's White Aristocracy
In the Name of White Womanhood
''A Heritage Unique in the Ages''

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

Racialized Bodies, National Character, and Photographic Documentation
Making Americans
Conserving Race in the Nation

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

Envisioning Race: Bodies on Display in Hagar's Daughter ''Sons of One Father''
Excavating the Hidden Self
Visions beyond the Color Line

Chapter Eight Reconfiguring a Masculine Gaze

Visions of Commodified Identity in Consumer Culture
Conspicuous Consumption under a Masculine Gaze: Rethinking Gender in Sister Carrie
Parting Glances
Afterimages A Brief Look at American Visual Culture in the 1990s