Beyond the Gibson Girl: Reimagining the American New Woman, by Martha H. Patterson

By Martha H. Patterson

Challenging monolithic photos of the recent lady as white, well-educated, and politically revolutionary, this research specializes in very important nearby, ethnic, and sociopolitical variations within the use of the hot girl trope on the flip of the 20th century. utilizing Charles Dana Gibson's "Gibson ladies" as some extent of departure, Martha H. Patterson explores how writers equivalent to Pauline Hopkins, Margaret Murray Washington, Sui Sin some distance, Mary Johnston, Edith Wharton, Ellen Glasgow, and Willa Cather challenged and redeployed the hot girl photo in gentle of different "new" conceptions: the "New Negro Woman," the "New Ethics," the "New South," and the "New China."

As she looks in those writers' works, the hot lady either can provide and threatens to impact sociopolitical swap as a shopper, an instigator of evolutionary and financial improvement, and, for writers of colour, an icon of winning assimilation into dominant Anglo-American tradition. analyzing a various array of cultural items, Patterson exhibits how the likely celebratory time period of the hot girl turns into a trope not just of revolutionary reform, client energy, transgressive femininity, sleek strength, and smooth remedy, but additionally of racial and ethnic taxonomies, social Darwinist fight, imperialist ambition, assimilationist pressures, and glossy decay.

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Additional info for Beyond the Gibson Girl: Reimagining the American New Woman, 1895-1915

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The growing physical, economic, and social autonomy of white women was to provide a substantial racial payoff because women would choose their mates more wisely. ” Illustration in Everyday People (1904). Courtesy of the University of Iowa. indd 39 9/1/05 8:50:36 AM 40 beyond the gibson girl cooperative ethic essential to modern industrial society, but also because she was more in charge of sexual selection. While men neglected their duty to select a mate “for points of racial superiority,” choosing, instead, to please themselves with a superficially attractive mate, women, as mothers of the race, would work to ensure racial progress (Gilman, Man-Made World 31).

Steadfastly linked to gaslight, Hurstwood’s suicide is rationalized, and under the direction of the Thomas Edison–like character, Ames, “Carrie is more than simply a human being, a body; she becomes a desiring-machine” (Armstrong 26). For Henry Adams, the new forces were awesomely powerful and yet mysterious, a “symbol of infinity,” having the power of the Virgin without the sex. Like the American astronomer and inventor Samuel Pierpont Langley, who, according to Adams, saw the new forces, especially radium, as “anarchical.

Cather too was anxious about electricity’s seemingly immoral force, but especially as it served as an expression of a kind of phallic commercialism. Her social protest story “Behind the Singer Tower” (1912) condemns inadequate fire-safety features for commercial buildings, the exploitation of immigrant laborers, and, most pointedly, the rapacious robber-baron spirit of the age. The narrator looks out “at the great incandescent signs along the Jersey shore, blazing across the night the names of beer and perfumes and corsets, .

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