Seeing the American Woman, 1880–1920

The Social Impact of the Visual Media Explosion


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About the Book

From 1880 to 1920, the first truly national visual culture developed in the United States as a result of the completion of the Pacific Railroad. Women, especially young and beautiful ones, found new lives shaped by their participation in that visual culture. This rapidly evolving age left behind the “cult of domesticity” that reigned in the nineteenth century to give rise to new “types” of women based on a single feature—a type of hair, skin, dress, or prop—including the Gibson Girl, the sob sister, the stunt girl, the hoochy-coochy dancer, and the bearded lady. Exploring both high and low culture, from the circus and film to newspapers and magazines, this work examines depictions of women at the dawn of “mass media,” depictions that would remain influential throughout the twentieth century.

About the Author(s)

Katherine H. Adams is a professor emerita of the Department of English at Loyola University New Orleans.

Michael L. Keene is a professor emeritus of English at the University of Tennessee Knoxville.

Jennifer C. Koella lectures at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Bibliographic Details

Katherine H. Adams, Michael L. Keene and Jennifer C. Koella
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 243
Bibliographic Info: 30 photos, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2012
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6661-0
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8903-9
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      viii

Preface      1

1. Public Women, Public Depictions      5

2. Woman as Child, Child as Woman      23

3. The Gibson Girl      55

4. The Stunt Girl      85

5. The (Comedic) Victim of Violence: The Constantly Imperiled Pauline      113

6. Evil Lone Dancers: The Salomé and Her Sisters      133

7. Women on Scientific Display: Natives, Oddities, and Grotesqueries      162

8. A Modern Amalgam: The Political Woman      183

Conclusion      207

Works Cited      215

Index      229

Book Reviews & Awards

“Valuable”—Journal of American Studies.