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Typecasting: On the Arts & Sciences of Human Inequalityby Elizabeth Ewen
Synopses & Reviews
“Typecasting is merely the most lucid and instructive history book to be published in the new millennium. ”
—Kurt Vonnegut, author of A Man Without a Country
“In Typecasting, two ace historians offer a profound and sweeping study of the most everyday, often unconscious, forms of prejudice. [It's] bound to make you think—and think again. ”
- Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Bait and Switch
- Investigating the practice of science in the service of prejudice, Ewen & Ewen bring to life the dark history of the Age of Democracy, where every step toward equality has found a parallel retreat into hierarchical dogma:
In this monumental work of popular history, Ewen & Ewen vividly expose the pivotal developments that have made stereotypes a persistent, common language. Moving across centuries and continents in thirty eloquent vignettes, their extraordinary journey uncovers the incubation of modern stereotypes in the halls of science and aesthetics and traces their materialization in the popular imagination. Their detective work in museum archives, popular magazines, and film alike, uncovers how stereotype has served as the groundwork of power in the modern world.
"This fascinating if overly ambitious study examines the rise of stereotyping in modern society and how the mainstream stereotypes the 'other' — whether black, Jewish, gay, disabled, etc. — to maintain social order. Ewen & Ewen — the pseudonym of Elizabeth and Stuart Ewen, professors, respectively, of American studies and film and media studies — have amassed a huge amount of material across a broad spectrum of disciplines, all providing concrete examples of how Western culture, beginning in the mid-18th century with the study of physiognomy (the evaluation of character based on facial features), has consciously created visual, verbal, scientific and artistic cues to identify those outside of the dominant culture. The Ewens' research is prodigious and their examples eclectic — silent star Mary Pickford's film persona and notions of femininity, the social philosophy behind Roget's Thesaurus, blackface and minstrel shows, and George W. Bush's rhetoric on Iraq — and this mass of information is extremely well organized thematically. While the Ewens' writing is clear and compelling, the overall effect can be overwhelming, and often the nuances get lost. Still, this is a terrific volume that will be eye-opening to academics and general readers alike. B&w illus. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
In-depth, fascinating, and lavishly illustrated, the definitive history on modern stereotypes from Victorian racial science to pop culture.
The authors chronicle the emergence of the "science of first impression" and reveal how the work of its creators--early social scientists--continues to shape how the world is viewed.
Typecasting chronicles the emergence of the "science of first impression" and reveals how the work of its creators—early social scientists—continues to shape how we see the world and to inform our most fundamental and unconscious judgments of beauty, humanity, and degeneracy. In this groundbreaking exploration of the growth of stereotyping amidst the rise of modern society, authors Ewen & Ewen demonstrate "typecasting" as a persistent cultural practice. Drawing on fields as diverse as history, pop culture, racial science, and film, and including over one hundred images, many published here for the first time, the authors present a vivid portrait of stereotyping as it was forged by colonialism, industrialization, mass media, urban life, and the global economy.
About the Author
Elizabeth Ewen is Distinguished Professor of American Studies at the State University University of New York. She is author of several books, including Channels of Desire (co-authored with Stuart Ewen) and most recently, Picture Windows: How the Suburbs Happened.
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