Call Boomerang Books 1300 36 33 32

Description - American Archives by Shawn Michelle Smith

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.

Buy American Archives by Shawn Michelle Smith from Australia's Online Independent Bookstore, Boomerang Books.

Book Details

ISBN: 9780691004785
ISBN-10: 0691004781
Format: Paperback / softback
(254mm x 197mm x mm)
Pages: 302
Imprint: Princeton University Press
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publish Date: 29-Nov-1999
Country of Publication: United States

Other Editions - American Archives by Shawn Michelle Smith

Book Reviews - American Archives by Shawn Michelle Smith

» Have you read this book? We'd like to know what you think about it - write a review about American Archives book by Shawn Michelle Smith and you'll earn 50c in Boomerang Bucks loyalty dollars (you must be a Boomerang Books Account Holder - it's free to sign up and there are great benefits!)

Author Biography - Shawn Michelle Smith

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

Books By Shawn Michelle Smith

American Archives by Shawn Michelle Smith
Hardback, December 1999
Photography on the Color Line by Shawn Michelle Smith
Paperback / softback, June 2004
Eden Turned on Its Side by Shawn Michelle Smith
Hardback, December 2017
$89.15 $99.06