Karen Halttunen draws a vivid picture of the social and cultural development of the upwardly mobile middle class, basing her study on a survey of the conduct manuals and fashion magazines of mid-nineteenth-century America.
"An ingenious book: original, inventive, resourceful, and exciting. … This book adds immeasurably to the current work on sentimental culture and American cultural history and brings to its task an inquisitive, fresh, and intelligent perspective. … Essential reading for historians, literary critics, feminists, and cultural commentators who wish to study mid-nineteenth-century American culture and its relation to contemporary values."-Dianne F. Sadoff,American Quarterly
"A compelling and beautifully developed study. … Halttunen provides us with a subtle book that gently unfolds from her mastery of the subject and intelligent prose."-Paula S. Fass,Journal of Social History
"Halttunen has done her homework-the research has been tremendous, the notes and bibliography are impressive, and the text is peppered with hundreds of quotes-and gives some real insight into an area of American culture and history where we might have never bothered to look."-John Hopkins,Times Literary Supplement
"The kind of imaginative history that opens up new questions, that challenges conventional historical understanding, and demonstrates how provocative and exciting cultural history can be."-William R. Leach,The New England Quarterly
"A stunning contribution to American cultural history."-Alan Trachtenberg
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