The story of the American self-made man carries a perennial
interest in American literature and cultural studies. This book
expands the study of such stories to include the writings of
Frederick Douglass, Horatio Alger and James Weldon Johnson, and the
work of silent comedians like Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd and
Buster Keaton. Thomas Nissley examines the number of texts, from
Reconstruction-era autobiographies to the films of the 30s, to show
the sustained market value of status and personal authenticity in
the era of contract and free labour.
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