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Freakery Cultural Spectacles of the Extraordinary Body

ISBN-10: 0814782221

ISBN-13: 9780814782224

Edition: 1996

Authors: Rosemarie Garland Thomson

List price: $30.00
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Description:

The release of Freakery is as much a comment on modern academia as it is an intriguing exploration of the enduring fascination with the construction and presentation of those who have been coarsely categorized as 'freaks,' 'curiosities', prodigies' and 'monstrosities.'-Ethnologies Giants. Midgets. Tribal non-Westerners. The very fat. The very thin. Hermaphrodites. Conjoined twins. The disabled. The very hirsute. In American history, all have shared the platform equally, as freaks, human oddities, their only commonality their assigned role of anomalous other to the gathered throngs. For the price of a ticket, freak shows offered spectators an icon of bodily otherness whose difference from them secured their own membership in a common American identity--by comparison ordinary, tractable, normal. Rosemarie Thomson's groundbreaking anthology probes America's disposition toward the visually different. The book's essays fall into four main categories: historical explorations of American freak shows in the era of P.T. Barnum; the articulation of the freak in literary and textual discourses; contemporary relocations of freak shows; and theoretical analyses of freak culture. Essays address such diverse topics as American colonialism and public presentations of natives; laughing gas demonstrations in the 1840's; Shirley Temple and Tom Thumb; Todd Browning's landmark movie Freaks; bodybuilders as postmodern freaks; freaks in Star Trek; Michael Jackson's identification with the Elephant Man; and the modern talk show as a reconfiguration of the freak show. In her introduction, Thomson traces the freak show from antiquity to the modern period and explores the constitutive, political, and textual properties of such exhibits. Freakeryis a fresh, insightful exploration of a heretofore neglected aspect of American mass culture.
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Book details

List price: $30.00
Copyright year: 1996
Publisher: New York University Press
Publication date: 10/1/1996
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 418
Size: 7.25" wide x 10.25" long x 1.25" tall
Weight: 2.046
Language: English

List of Illustrations
Foreword
Preface and Acknowledgments
Introduction: From Wonder to Error - A Genealogy of Freak Discourse in Modernity
The Social Construction of Freaks
The "Careers" of People Exhibited in Freak Shows: The Problem of Volition and Valorization
Intolerable Ambiguity: Freaks as/at the Limit
Monsters in the Marketplace: The Exhibition of Human Oddities in Early Modern England
Death-Defying/Defining Spectacles: Charles Willson Peale as Early American Freak Showman
P.T. Barnum's Theatrical Selfhood and the Nineteenth-Century Culture of Exhibition
Social Order and Psychological Disorder: Laughing Gas Demonstrations, 1800-1850
Photography and Persuasion: Farm Security Administration Photographs of Circus and Carnival Sideshows, 1935-1942
Of Men, Missing Links, and Nondescripts: The Strange Career of P.T. Barnum's "What is It?" Exhibition
Aztecs, Aborigines, and Ape-People: Science and Freaks in Germany, 1850-1900
The "Exceptions That Prove the Rule": Daisy and Violet Hilton, the "New Woman," and the Bonds of Marriage
Cuteness and Commodity Aesthetics: Tom Thumb and Shirley Temple
Ethnological Show Business: Footlighting the Dark Continent
Ogling Igorots: The Politics and Commerce of Exhibiting Cultural Otherness, 1898-1913
"What an object he would have made of me!": Tattooing and the Racial Freak in Melville's Typee
The Circassian Beauty and the Circassian Slave: Gender, Imperialism, and American Popular Entertainment
"One of Us": Tod Browning's Freaks
An American Tail: Freaks, Gender, and the Incorporation of History in Katherine Dunn's Geek Love
Freaking Feminism: The Life and Loves of a She-Devil and Nights at the Circus as Narrative Freak Shows
Teaching Freaks
The Dime Museum Freak Show Reconfigured as Talk Show
Freaks in Space: "Extraterrestrialism" and "Deep-Space Multiculturalism"
Being Humaned: Medical Documentaries and the Hyperrealization of Conjoined Twins
Bodybuilding: A Postmodern Freak Show
The Celebrity Freak: Michael Jackson's "Grotesque Glory"
Contributors
Index