Acts of Conspicuous Compassion: Performance Culture and by Sheila C. Moeschen

By Sheila C. Moeschen

Acts of Conspicuous Compassion investigates the connection among functionality tradition and the cultivation of charitable sentiment in the United States, exploring the particular practices that experience advanced to make the plea for charity legible and compelling. From the paintings of 19th-century melodramas to the televised drama of transformation and redemption in fact TV’s severe Makeover: domestic version, Acts of Conspicuous Compassion charts the delicate options hired via quite a few charity pursuits chargeable for making geared up benevolence eye-catching, intriguing, and doubtless uncomplicated.

Sheila C. Moeschen agents a brand new manner of accounting for the legacy and involvement of disabled humans inside of charity—specifically, the articulation of functionality tradition as an essential theoretical framework for discussing problems with embodiment and identification dislodges formerly held notions of the disabled present as passive, “objects” of pity. This paintings provides upward push to a extra complex and nuanced dialogue of the participation of the disabled neighborhood within the charity undefined, of the possibilities afforded by means of functionality tradition for disabled humans to behave as serious brokers of charity, and of the recent moral and political concerns that come up from using functionality method in a tradition with elevated appetites for voyeurism, exhibit, and complicated spectacle.

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They stood for the qualities of stability, guidance, and control under attack by industrializing and urbanizing elements in the world outside of the playhouse. Secondary characters, though just as culturally significant as primary ones, served unique functions in the melodrama. Roles for the ethnically or physically diverse or of a varied class status existed, in many instances, to challenge or satirize the moral truths advanced by central characters. They also played into stereotypes about class, religion, or ethnicity and were performed for comical effect.

Roles for the ethnically or physically diverse or of a varied class status existed, in many instances, to challenge or satirize the moral truths advanced by central characters. They also played into stereotypes about class, religion, or ethnicity and were performed for comical effect. For instance, one character that became popular in the latter half of the century was the Yankee, a figure that was performed as either a fool, naive about local customs and behaviors, or a confidence man. 49 Disabled characters, specifically deaf/dumb and blind youths or adolescents, offered another perspective on the ethics advanced in the melodrama.

Cities offered anonymity for their residents, precluding customary and reliable ways of exchanging social information such as class and status. Outward appearance could no longer accurately convey a person’s ethical makeup or moral intentions. ”23 This belief governed the ways in which citizens read one another in the social sphere, and it also affected, in part, how people recognized and demonstrated the integrity of their benevolence. Emotionalism supposedly leveled the playing field of antebellum identity politics, facilitated by a range of elements employed to produce a high degree of affective impact.

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