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Personal Property Wives, White Slaves, and the Market in Women by Margit Stange

Personal Property Wives, White Slaves, and the Market in Women


Personal Property Wives, White Slaves, and the Market in Women by Margit Stange

In Personal Property, Margit Stange analyzes white slavery literature in relation to other key American writings of the time by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Edith Wharton, Jane Addams, and Kate Chopin. The anthropological theory of the exchange of women developed by nineteenth-century anthropologists-in whose view, as Thorstein Veblen put it, woman is the original private property-informs white slavery depictions of racialized, enslaved female bodies. Similarly, Stange argues, this theory is reflected in literature, in journalism, and in the feminist and Progressivist reform rhetoric of the early twentieth century, when social relations were transformed by capitalist expansion. She explores Progressive Era nativist and anti-business reactions, anxieties about the seductive pull of consumerism, the social housekeeping movement, and women's struggle for identity and professional stature in the U.S. marketplace economy of the early twentieth century.


Personal Property represents a valuable and insightful contribution to the study of gender, commodity marketing, and aesthetics, and of their complex interplay during the first two decades in the twentieth-century United States. -- Eric Henderson * American Literature *

About the Author

Margit Stange is an independent scholar.

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Book Info

Publication date

1st September 2002


Margit Stange

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Johns Hopkins University Press


184 pages


Literary studies: from c 1900 -
Literary studies: fiction, novelists & prose writers

Social & cultural history



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