Through the Looking Glass Darkly: Episodes from the History of Deviance

DSpace/Manakin Repository

Through the Looking Glass Darkly: Episodes from the History of Deviance

Show simple item record

dc.contributor.advisor Stauffer, John
dc.contributor.author Gavranovic, Altin
dc.date.accessioned 2012-11-14T14:58:22Z
dc.date.issued 2012-11-14
dc.date.submitted 2012
dc.identifier.other http://dissertations.umi.com/gsas.harvard:10506 en
dc.identifier.uri http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:9904014
dc.description.abstract This dissertation is a cultural history of deviance in the United States. I use a series of case studies to examine the way deviant figures have been represented and experienced within American culture. The dissertation covers four historical eras and examines a representative deviant figure in each of them. The first chapter deals with the figure of the witch in Puritan New England, the second examines the libertine in the early American republic, the third deals with freaks in Victorian America and the fourth studies the flapper in the roaring twenties. Each of these chapters is focused on a particular historical crisis, trial or scandal that produced a rich body of historical evidence for study and analysis: the Salem Witch Trial of 1692, the Apthorp-Morton Scandal of 1788, the sensational Beecher-Tilton Affair of 1875 and the Ruth Snyder Trial of 1927. My overarching thesis is that representations of deviants reveal a deep cultural preoccupation with failure and inadequacy, which are projected onto deviant figures. This interpretation is an attempt to move beyond viewing representations of deviance as simply being attempts to repress those who do not conform to societal norms, or to shore up fragile social identities by creating ‘others’ against whom the normal American could be negatively defined. Instead, I argue that representations of deviance were compelling to the Americans who created them primarily as powerful fantasies about failure, lack and inadequacy. On to the rich symbolic canvas of the deviant figure, Americans projected their anxieties about personal and social failure. In different ways at different times, deviants have been used to articulate the various possible ways in which a person could fail to meet their society’s ideals and expectations, and to imagine the consequences of such failures for both individual personhood and society as a whole. The deviant has therefore historically served as a kind of mirror to the culture which produced him or her: a mirror in which a culture might darkly glimpse its own values, distorted by the terrifying failure to achieve that which is most prized. en_US
dc.language.iso en_US en_US
dash.license LAA
dc.subject American studies en_US
dc.subject history en_US
dc.subject capitalism en_US
dc.subject deviance en_US
dc.subject fantasy en_US
dc.subject imagination en_US
dc.subject modernity en_US
dc.subject psychology en_US
dc.title Through the Looking Glass Darkly: Episodes from the History of Deviance en_US
dc.type Thesis or Dissertation en_US
dc.date.available 2012-11-14T14:58:22Z
thesis.degree.date 2012 en_US
thesis.degree.discipline History of American Civilization en_US
thesis.degree.grantor Harvard University en_US
thesis.degree.level doctoral en_US
thesis.degree.name Ph.D. en_US
dc.contributor.committeeMember Braude, Ann en_US
dc.contributor.committeeMember Kleinman, Arthur en_US

Files in this item

Files Size Format View
Gavranovic_gsas.harvard_0084L_10506.pdf 3.618Mb PDF View/Open

This item appears in the following Collection(s)

Show simple item record

 
 

Search DASH


Advanced Search
 
 

Submitters