The Fabric of American Literary Realism

Readymade Clothing, Social Mobility and Assimilation


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About the Book

This critical study traces the connections between the rising economic importance of the garment industry and the advent of a powerful movement towards literary realism in American fiction. Examining the works of Henry James, Theodor Dreiser, Abraham Cahan, Anzia Yezierska, and Willa Cather and the shifting of the American ideal from the “homespun” to the “ready made,” it explains how that cultural and psychological change appeared in the new literature of the nation.

About the Author(s)

Babak Elahi writes on labor and literacy and the Iranian diaspora. Currently he is an associate professor in the Department of English at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT).

Bibliographic Details

Babak Elahi
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 228
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2009
pISBN: 978-0-7864-4119-8
eISBN: 978-0-7864-5354-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      v
Preface      1

CHAPTER      1
Dress in the North American Political Imagination      9
CHAPTER      2
The Discourse of Dress and Literary Realism in the United States      39
CHAPTER      3
Henry James’s Old Clothes      61
CHAPTER      4
From Clothing to Nothing: Annihilating the Self in Sister Carrie      82
CHAPTER      5
Dress and Mobility in The Rise of David Levinsky      108
CHAPTER      6
The Financial and Sartorial Fictions of Anzia Yezierska      139
CHAPTER      7
The Clothing of the American Frontier: or How the West Was Worn in Willa Cather      165
A Scarf, a Shawl, un Rebozo      187

Chapter Notes      191
Bibliography      209
Index      217