Catalogue


The syntax of class : writing inequality in nineteenth-century America /
Amy Schrager Lang.
imprint
Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, c2003.
description
152 p.
ISBN
0691113890 (acid-free paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, c2003.
isbn
0691113890 (acid-free paper)
catalogue key
4775521
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Excerpts
Flap Copy
"This is a tightly focused, original, and elegantly argued study of the operation of class in nineteenth-century U.S. fiction. It reveals for the first time a congeries of class-based relationships that have been, so to speak, hiding in plain sight. To readThe Syntax of Classis to understand the great extent to which U.S. nineteenth-century fiction produced the hegemonic middle class within a context of debates over inequality."--Cecelia Tichi, Vanderbilt University "Lang reveals how the ever-shifting problems of class identity in the United States can provide sophisticated structures for literary analysis. The result is an extremely well-written, solid, and sensitive work of literary and cultural history."--Gavin Jones, Stanford University
Flap Copy
"This is a tightly focused, original, and elegantly argued study of the operation of class in nineteenth-century U.S. fiction. It reveals for the first time a congeries of class-based relationships that have been, so to speak, hiding in plain sight. To read The Syntax of Class is to understand the great extent to which U.S. nineteenth-century fiction produced the hegemonic middle class within a context of debates over inequality."-- Cecelia Tichi, Vanderbilt University "Lang reveals how the ever-shifting problems of class identity in the United States can provide sophisticated structures for literary analysis. The result is an extremely well-written, solid, and sensitive work of literary and cultural history."-- Gavin Jones, Stanford University
Flap Copy
"This is a tightly focused, original, and elegantly argued study of the operation of class in nineteenth-century U.S. fiction. It reveals for the first time a congeries of class-based relationships that have been, so to speak, hiding in plain sight. To read The Syntax of Class is to understand the great extent to which U.S. nineteenth-century fiction produced the hegemonic middle class within a context of debates over inequality."--Cecelia Tichi, Vanderbilt University "Lang reveals how the ever-shifting problems of class identity in the United States can provide sophisticated structures for literary analysis. The result is an extremely well-written, solid, and sensitive work of literary and cultural history."--Gavin Jones, Stanford University
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2003-09-01:
Lang (Emory Univ.) bases this slim, impressive volume on the premise that the 19th-century US's growing awareness of class differences, antagonisms, and ways of living inimical to the middle class threatened the putative "harmony of interests" necessary to the republic. As a result, a significant number of middle-class writers like Cummins, Hawthorne, Alger, Stuart Phelps, and Alcott work to reflect and manage class distinctions and tensions. The dominant strategy, which Lang finds in Cummins's The Lamplighter, resolves the troubling conditions of the working class by means of the essentialized figure of "home," presided over by the naturalized figure of the true woman, whose race- and class-based constructedness is elided; such issues are dissolved within the middle-class white woman, who by her very nature transcends material distinctions or, occasionally, creates female solidarity across class lines. African Americans Frank Webb and Harriet Wilson create counternarratives that question the possibility of blacks finding such homes in the US; the homes they propose are based on a besieged racial solidarity. Lang's discussion of Rebecca Harding Davis's Life in the Iron Mills is especially provocative, for she asserts the author's exemplary denial that art, especially that created by the middle-class writer, can represent and appropriate industrial workers. ^BSumming Up: Essential. All academic collections. M. L. Robertson Sweet Briar College
Reviews
Review Quotes
One of Choice 's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2003
Lang reveals how the ever-shifting problems of class identity in the United States can provide sophisticated structures for literary analysis. The result is an extremely well-written, solid, and sensitive work of literary and cultural history.
This is a tightly focused, original, and elegantly argued study of the operation of class in nineteenth-century U.S. fiction. It reveals for the first time a congeries of class-based relationships that have been, so to speak, hiding in plain sight. To readThe Syntax of Classis to understand the great extent to which U.S. nineteenth-century fiction produced the hegemonic middle class within a context of debates over inequality.
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, September 2003
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Bowker Data Service Summary
In the wake of the European revolutions of 1848, American fears of class conflict deepened & are illustrated by the literary expressions of the time. Lacking a native language for the expression of class difference, writers from all perspectives sought adequate social taxonomies.
Main Description
The Syntax of Classexplores the literary expression of the crisis of social classification that occupied U.S. public discourse in the wake of the European revolutions of 1848. Lacking a native language for expressing class differences, American writers struggled to find social taxonomies able to capture--and manage--increasingly apparent inequalities of wealth and power. As new social types emerged at midcentury and, with them, new narratives of success and failure, police and reformers alarmed the public with stories of the rise and proliferation of the "dangerous classes." At the same time, novelists as different as Maria Cummins, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Frank Webb, Elizabeth Stuart Phelps, and Horatio Alger Jr. focused their attention on dense engagements across the lines of class. Turning to the middle-class idea of "home" as a figure for social harmony and to the lexicons of race and gender in their effort to devise a syntax for the representation of class, these writers worked to solve the puzzle of inequity in their putatively classless nation. This study charts the kaleidoscopic substitution of terms through which they rendered class distinctions and follows these renderings as they circulated in and through a wider cultural discourse about the dangers of class conflict. This welcome book is a finely achieved study of the operation of class in nineteenth-century American fiction--and of its entanglements with the languages of race and gender.
Main Description
The Syntax of Class explores the literary expression of the crisis of social classification that occupied U.S. public discourse in the wake of the European revolutions of 1848. Lacking a native language for expressing class differences, American writers struggled to find social taxonomies able to capture--and manage--increasingly apparent inequalities of wealth and power. As new social types emerged at midcentury and, with them, new narratives of success and failure, police and reformers alarmed the public with stories of the rise and proliferation of the "dangerous classes." At the same time, novelists as different as Maria Cummins, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Frank Webb, Elizabeth Stuart Phelps, and Horatio Alger Jr. focused their attention on dense engagements across the lines of class. Turning to the middle-class idea of "home" as a figure for social harmony and to the lexicons of race and gender in their effort to devise a syntax for the representation of class, these writers worked to solve the puzzle of inequity in their putatively classless nation. This study charts the kaleidoscopic substitution of terms through which they rendered class distinctions and follows these renderings as they circulated in and through a wider cultural discourse about the dangers of class conflict. This welcome book is a finely achieved study of the operation of class in nineteenth-century American fiction--and of its entanglements with the languages of race and gender.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introduction: Class, Classification, and Conflictp. 1
Home, in the Better Sense: The Model Woman, the Middle Class, and the Harmony of Interestsp. 14
Orphaned in America: Color, Class, and Communityp. 42
Indexical People: Women, Workers, and the Limits of Literary Languagep. 69
Beginning Again: Love, Money, and a Circle of "Friends"p. 99
Epiloguep. 128
Notesp. 131
Indexp. 149
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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