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Posing a Threat: Flappers, Chorus Girls, and Other Brazen Performers of the American 1920s [Paperback]

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Item description for Posing a Threat: Flappers, Chorus Girls, and Other Brazen Performers of the American 1920s by A. J. H. Latham...

New definitions of American femininity were formed in the pivotal 1920s, an era that vastly expanded the "market" for sexually explicit displays by women. Angela J. Latham shows how quarrels over and censorship of women's performance -- particularly in the arenas of fashion and theater -- uniquely reveal the cultural idiosyncracies of the period and provide valuable clues to the developing iconicity of the female body in its more recent historical phases.

Through disguise, display, or judicious appropriation of both, performance became a crucial means by which women contested, affirmed, mitigated, and revolutionized norms of female self-presentation and self-stylization. Fashion was a hotly contested arena of bodily display. Latham surveys 1920s fashion trends and explores popular fashion rhetoric. Resistance to social mandates regarding women's fashion was nowhere more pronounced than in the matter of "bathing costumes." Latham critiques locally situated contests over swimwear, including those surrounding the first Miss America Pageant, and suggests how such performances sanctioned otherwise unacceptable self-presentations by women.

Looking at American theater, Latham summarizes major arguments about censorship and the ideological assumptions embedded within them. Although sexually provocative displays by women were often the focus of censorship efforts, "leg shows," including revues like the Zeigfeld Follies, were in their heyday. Latham situates the popularity of such performances that featured women's bodies within the larger context of censorship in the American theater at this time.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Wesleyan
Pages   293
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 6.25" Width: 9" Height: 9"
Weight:   0.75 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Mar 31, 2000
Publisher   Wesleyan
ISBN  081956401X  
ISBN13  9780819564016  

Availability  0 units.

More About A. J. H. Latham

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! ANGELA J. LATHAM is Director of Theatre in the Department of Fine Arts at Triton College.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Arts & Photography > Fashion > History
2Books > Subjects > Arts & Photography > Performing Arts > Theater > History & Criticism
3Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Social Sciences > Customs & Traditions
4Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Social Sciences > Folklore & Mythology
5Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Social Sciences > General
6Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Social Sciences > Sociology > General
7Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Social Sciences > Sociology
8Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Womens Studies > Feminist Theory
9Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Womens Studies > General
10Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Womens Studies > History

Reviews - What do customers think about Posing a Threat: Flappers, Chorus Girls, and Other Brazen Performers of the American 1920s?

Too Academic and Without Focus  May 22, 2007
I got this book and I have to say that I read the introduction off of this site and wanted to read more stories such as that of the author's Grandmother. The book was WAY too dry and academic which is not necessarily a problem but the author seems to have lost focus. By the closing of the book, the author seemed not to be sure just how to tie up the book. While some aspects of the book were interesting with very good illustrations within, other aspects such as the end chapters dealing with the bathing suit controversies and the chorus girl criticism seemed overwrought with angry feminist analysis from the author. It seemed as if one was trying to figure out if this was the author's own personal opinion or one based off of careful research into the topic. The author was trying to make the case that the 1920s was not an age of hedonistic freedom that is sometimes presented in other books on that time the fact is that from much of her illustrations and footnotes it can clearly be seen that in contrast to the age previous (the Edwardian) age the 20s was in fact an age of Hedonism which has of course been exposited in other books only to come to an end with the economic crash of the 30s. The author failed also to actually analyze the biographies of actual "flappers", chorus girls and others to actually posit her thesis which really failed miserably. Her analysis was simplistic.
Great cover and Illustrations ... but too academic  Jul 7, 2006
This book reads like a dissertation. It's a great topic, and the cover and title promise much more than it delivers. I strongly suspect this was the author's dissertation project. That's fine because it's well-researched, and the author definitely is an expert on women in the 1920s. But it's a wet subject, and the auther serves it up dry. There's good information in here, but it'll be slow going. On the positive side, there are many great black-and-white illustrations.
An interesting look at life for women in the 1920s.  Jan 5, 2002
The author's basic premise is that in the 1920s, women used display to resist, while at times seeming to conform to, those who would have squeezed them into the molds of how society would have them appear. In the first few chapters, she does a good job of this. Especially insightful is the example of her own grandmother, who as a young woman in this time period, disguised both her bobbed hair and her married state so that she could continue in her chosen profession as teacher.

However, in the latter two chapters of the book, the author seems to focus more on the exploitation of women by the theatre industry and it's effects. In this, she seems to stray too far from her theme. It would have been better if she had had more examples like that of her grandmother which supported her theme, rather than diverging off of the topic.

I really do recommend this book at least for the initial chapters, which are an interesting look at the attitudes of an era that has been very much stereotyped. It gives you an idea of the some of the restrictions that would have been felt by a woman who was, not a Gretta Garbo or Clara Bow, but an average person trying to live from day to day....

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