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The Birth of a JungleAnimality in Progressive-Era U.S. Literature and Culture$
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Michael Lundblad

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199917570

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199917570.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 02 August 2021

The Working-Class Beast

The Working-Class Beast

Frank Norris and Upton Sinclair

Chapter:
(p.92) 4 The Working-Class Beast
Source:
The Birth of a Jungle
Author(s):

Michael Lundblad

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199917570.003.0018

This chapter explores jungle discourse in terms of class relations at the turn of the twentieth century. The general shift from Protestant Christian thinking to the Darwinist-Freudian jungle is often seen as already in place at that historical moment. But constructions of the corporation were not necessarily animalized in ways we would recognize today. This chapter explores how class struggles could still be framed within Christian ethics, particularly for middle-class reformers and wealthy robber barons. This chapter argues that working-class laborers were the first to be animalized within the new discourse of the jungle. Further critical attention to constructions of class difference in Frank Norris's The Octopus (1901) and Upton Sinclair's The Jungle (1906) reveals how these texts simultaneously naturalize and resist this discourse. The seemingly unrelated public electrocution of a circus elephant at Coney Island in 1903 is shown to be a signifier of animalized class warfare.

Keywords:   animal, animality, class struggle, working class, jungle, beast, Frank Norris, Upton Sinclair

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