By Jennifer Putzi
What we all know of the marked physique in nineteenth-century American literature and tradition frequently starts with The Scarlet Letter's Hester Prynne and ends with Moby Dick's Queequeg. This research seems to be on the presence of marked women and men in a more difficult array of canonical and lesser-known works, together with exploration narratives, romances, and frontier novels. Jennifer Putzi indicates how tattoos, scars, and types can functionality either as stigma and as brand of therapeutic and survival, hence blurring the borderline among the organic and social, the corporeal and spiritual.
Examining such texts as Typee, Uncle Tom's Cabin, Captivity of the Oatman Girls, The Morgesons, Iola Leroy, and Contending Forces, Putzi relates the illustration of the marked physique to major occasions, ideals, or cultural shifts, together with tattooing and captivity, romantic love, the patriarchal kin, and abolition and slavery. Her specific concentration is on either women and men of colour, in addition to white women-in different phrases, our bodies that didn't characterize personhood within the 19th century and hence by way of their very nature have been gruesome. Complicating the discourse on supplier, energy, and identification, those texts show a shockingly advanced array of representations of and responses to the marked body―some which are a fabricated from essentialist wondering race and gender identities and a few that complicate, critique, or maybe insurgent opposed to traditional thought.
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Additional info for Identifying Marks: Race, Gender, and the Marked Body in Nineteenth-Century America
The subversive potential of the tattoo to disrupt identity links it to twentieth-century theories of the grotesque, most widely disseminated by Mikhail Bakhtin, but also developed by feminist theorists such as Susan Stewart and Mary Russo. As opposed to the classical body, which is, in Russo’s words, “transcendent and monumental, closed, static, self-contained, symmetrical and sleek,” the grotesque body is “open, protruding, irregular, secreting, multiple, and changing” (8). The relationship between the tattoo and the grotesque is most obvious in the tattoo’s confusion of the interior/exterior boundaries of the human body.
B. Stratton, Captivity of the Oatman Girls, 2nd ed. (San Francisco: Whitton, Towne, 1857). Capturing Identity in Ink • 37 Overall, despite her ﬁve years “among the Indians,” Olive is represented in Stratton’s narrative as a white woman who not only desires to return to white society but also retains her Christian faith and her ability to communicate in English. Her desire for a dress rather than a bark skirt neatly symbolizes Stratton’s implicit assertion that you can take the woman out of civilization, but you can’t take civilization out of the woman.
Fayaway’s facial tattoos, he insists, are “minute,” “no bigger than pinheads,” and deﬁnitely not discernible at a distance, in contrast to the rather shocking facial tattoos of the Typee warriors. The tattoo might initially seem to be a natural extension of the native woman’s love of decoration; Tommo 26 • chapter one goes into great detail about the young women’s use of ﬂowers to adorn their hair, ankles, and wrists. Yet he resists conﬂating tattooing with any other form of bodily decoration or modiﬁcation, insisting that no such embellishment is needed to make Fayaway or her companions more attractive.