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Freak Show: Presenting Human Oddities for Amusement and Profit

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Freak Show: Presenting Human Oddities for Amusement and Profit Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

From 1840 until 1940, freak shows by the hundreds crisscrossed the United States, from the smallest towns to the largest cities, exhibiting their casts of dwarfs, giants, Siamese twins, bearded ladies, savages, snake charmers, fire eaters, and other oddities. By today's standards such displays would be considered cruel and exploitative—the pornography of disability. Yet for one hundred years the freak show was widely accepted as one of America's most popular forms of entertainment.

Robert Bogdan's fascinating social history brings to life the world of the freak show and explores the culture that nurtured and, later, abandoned it. In uncovering this neglected chapter of show business, he describes in detail the flimflam artistry behind the shows, the promoters and the audiences, and the gradual evolution of public opinion from awe to embarrassment. Freaks were not born, Bogdan reveals; they were manufactured by the amusement world, usually with the active participation of the freaks themselves. Many of the "human curiosities" found fame and fortune, becoming the celebrities of their time, until the ascent of professional medicine transformed them from marvels into pathological specimans.

Synopsis:

Traces the history of freak shows, describes the deceptions used in marketing carnival attractions, and looks at changing public attitudes.

Synopsis:

From 1840 until 1940, freak shows by the hundreds crisscrossed the United States, from the smallest towns to the largest cities, exhibiting their casts of dwarfs, giants, Siamese twins, bearded ladies, savages, snake charmers, fire eaters, and other oddities. By today's standards such displays would be considered cruel and exploitative--the pornography of disability. Yet for one hundred years the freak show was widely accepted as one of America's most popular forms of entertainment.

Robert Bogdan's fascinating social history brings to life the world of the freak show and explores the culture that nurtured and, later, abandoned it. In uncovering this neglected chapter of show business, he describes in detail the flimflam artistry behind the shows, the promoters and the audiences, and the gradual evolution of public opinion from awe to embarrassment. Freaks were not born, Bogdan reveals; they were manufactured by the amusement world, usually with the active participation of the freaks themselves. Many of the "human curiosities" found fame and fortune, becoming the celebrities of their time, until the ascent of professional medicine transformed them from marvels into pathological specimans.

About the Author

Robert Bogdan is professor of special education, cultural foundations of education, and sociology at Syracuse University.

Table of Contents

Preface

1. Introduction: In Search of Freaks

I. Freak Show: The Institution

2. From Tavern to Madison Square Garden: A Chronicle of the Freak Show in America

3. Step Right Up: The World of Popular Amusement

4. Exotic and Aggrandized: Modes of Presenting Freaks

II. Profiles of Presentation

5. The Exhibition of People We Now Call Mentally Retarded

6. Illusions of Grandeur

7. Cannibals and Savages

8. Respectable Freaks

9. Self-Made Freaks

10. Conclusion: Freak Encounter

List of Abbreviations

Notes

References

Index

Product Details

ISBN:
9780226063126
Author:
Bogdan, Robert
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
Location:
Chicago
Subject:
General
Subject:
United States - General
Subject:
Sociology - General
Subject:
Circus
Subject:
Abnormalities, human
Subject:
Abnormalities
Subject:
Carnivals
Subject:
Freak shows
Subject:
Drama-Circus
Copyright:
Edition Description:
1
Publication Date:
19900531
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
Professional and scholarly
Language:
English
Illustrations:
79 halftones
Pages:
336
Dimensions:
9.18x5.94x.86 in. .99 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Art » Style and Design
Arts and Entertainment » Drama » Circus
Arts and Entertainment » Drama » Featured Titles
History and Social Science » Sociology » General
History and Social Science » US History » General

Freak Show: Presenting Human Oddities for Amusement and Profit Used Trade Paper
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Product details 336 pages University of Chicago Press - English 9780226063126 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , Traces the history of freak shows, describes the deceptions used in marketing carnival attractions, and looks at changing public attitudes.
"Synopsis" by ,
From 1840 until 1940, freak shows by the hundreds crisscrossed the United States, from the smallest towns to the largest cities, exhibiting their casts of dwarfs, giants, Siamese twins, bearded ladies, savages, snake charmers, fire eaters, and other oddities. By today's standards such displays would be considered cruel and exploitative--the pornography of disability. Yet for one hundred years the freak show was widely accepted as one of America's most popular forms of entertainment.

Robert Bogdan's fascinating social history brings to life the world of the freak show and explores the culture that nurtured and, later, abandoned it. In uncovering this neglected chapter of show business, he describes in detail the flimflam artistry behind the shows, the promoters and the audiences, and the gradual evolution of public opinion from awe to embarrassment. Freaks were not born, Bogdan reveals; they were manufactured by the amusement world, usually with the active participation of the freaks themselves. Many of the "human curiosities" found fame and fortune, becoming the celebrities of their time, until the ascent of professional medicine transformed them from marvels into pathological specimans.

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