Confidence Men and Painted Women

A Study of Middle-class Culture in America, 1830-1870

Karen Halttunen

View Inside Price: $32.00


September 10, 1986
288 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
ISBN: 9780300037883
Paper

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

“A stunning contribution to American cultural history.”—Alan Trachtenberg

“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

“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

“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

“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

"Based on contemporary advice manuals, this study analyzes the evolution of behavioral values. . . . Clear, thoughtful, and persuasive, this closely knit study of a narrow but important theme will be essential reading for specialists."—Library Journal

"Halttunen has hold of something here that applies today. . . . She has much that is interesting to say about the mobile American character and about the mercenary, materialistic, and, yes, romantic men and women who are still creating this country."—Margaret Manning, Boston Globe

"The author's subtle, inquiring reading makes it clear this literature deserves patient questioning. In a book of short compass, her conclusions cannot be definitive. But her suggestions are sophisticated and intriguing; they force attention and argument to a new, higher level."—Choice

"Explores valuably the tensions between honest feeling and propriety in a mobile society where people were not only self-made but self-defined."—David Grimsted, The Journal of American History

"A valuable contribution to our understanding of American middle-class culture in the nineteenth century."—Richard B. Sherman, The Historian

"Students of nineteenth-century American fiction will benefit by her intelligence and learning."—Nineteenth-Century Fiction

"Can be recommended as a regional exemplification of ideas others have broached more broadly. This book will be especially appreciated by those interested in the rise of American middle-class ideology, and the relationships among republicanism, religion and urban culture."—Roger Miller, Social History