Stunts of Late Nineteenth-Century New York : Aestheticised Precarity, Endangered Liveness book cover
1st Edition

Stunts of Late Nineteenth-Century New York
Aestheticised Precarity, Endangered Liveness

ISBN 9781032090276
Published June 30, 2021 by Routledge
224 Pages 14 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Stunts of Late Nineteenth- Century New York: Aestheticised Precarity, Endangered Liveness examines the emergence of stunts in the media, politics, sport and art of New York at the turn of the twentieth century.

This book investigates stunts in sport, media and politics, demonstrating how these risky performances tapped into anxieties and fantasies concerning work, freedom, gendered/ raced/ classed bodies and the commodifi cation of human life. Its case studies examine bridge jumping, extreme walking contests, stunt journalists such as Nellie Bly, and cycling feats including Annie Londonderry’s round- the- world venture. Supported by extensive archival research and Performance Studies theorisations of precarity, liveness and surrogation, Smith theorises an under- examined form which is still prevalent in art, politics and commerce, to show what stunts reveal about value, risk and human life.

Suitable for scholars and practitioners across a range of subjects, from Performance Studies to gender studies, to media studies, Stunts of Late Nineteenth- Century New York explores how stunts turned everyday precarity into a spectacle.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements;  Introduction; 1. Stunts and money: bridge jumping and the Industrial Army; 2. Stunts, work and walking in circles in the ‘go-as-you-please’ race; 3. Stunt journalism; 4. Turning the wheel: bicycle stunts, circulation and derivatives; Conclusion; Index


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Kirstin Smith is lecturer in Drama at the University of East Anglia, UK. Her work has appeared in TDR and Nineteenth Century Theatre and Film , and her research examines the intersection of performance, identity and economy.