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Title: Showing the World: Chicago’s Columbian Exposition in American Writing
Authors: Buonomo, Leonardo
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste
Source: Leonardo Buonomo, "Showing the World: Chicago’s Columbian Exposition in American Writing", in: Guido Abbattista (edited by), “Moving Bodies, Displaying Nations National Cultures, Race and Gender in World Expositions Nineteenth to Twenty-first Century”, Trieste, EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste, 2014, pp. 21-38
This essay examines a representative sample of the substantial body of writing
which emerged from Chicago’s 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. This compelling
literary legacy is one aspect of that otherwise widely studied event that has so far
received only scant critical attention. It is the author’s belief that through a close
reading of these texts we can gain precious insights into a defining moment of the
American experience, one that signaled the emergence of the United States as a major
player on the international stage. The writers under consideration – ranging from
canonical (William Dean Howells), to popular (Frances Hodgson Burnett), minor
(Julian Hawthorne), and forgotten (Clara Louise Burnham) – had recourse to different
literary genres, approaches, and registers to recreate, and comment on, the ways in
which the United States presented itself to the world and how it interacted with,
and responded to, the foreign delegations participating in the exposition. Although
varying greatly from one another in terms of style, scope, and ambition, these works
all testify quite eloquently to the significance of the Columbian Exposition as an
occasion for national soul-searching and identity construction. They are illuminating
interpretations of a crucial phase in American history, one marked by unresolved racial
tension (the dark heritage of the Civil War) and massive foreign immigration, when
the United States was endeavoring to come to terms with its new role as a political,
economic, and cultural power.
Type: Book Chapter
ISBN: 9788883035821
eISBN: 9788883034923
Appears in Collections:Moving Bodies, Displaying Nations. National Cultures, Race and Gender in World Expositions 19th to 21st Century

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