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Title:Telephone Trespassing: Social Regulation and Resistance in American Telephone Fictions
Author(s):Middeljans, April Lynn
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Parker, Robert Dale
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Literature, American
Abstract:Designed to contract geographical space, the telephone quickly proved it could also trespass traditional social boundaries, promising a voice to those typically silenced by social hierarchies. As the telephone network began to blur the lines separating public and private, center and margins, intimacy and independence, American culture developed telephone fictions that strove to declare who may speak, when they may speak, and how they should speak. The telephone's paradoxical potential for absence and presence, access and exclusion, assertion and subjugation both challenged and reinforced dominant attitudes about gender, ethnicity, and class. In the cultural struggle to adapt the telephone to conflicting human ends, imaginative writers and artists in literary culture, popular culture, and the telephone industry deployed competing tactics of regulation and resistance. Subscribing to the prevailing cultural "party line," most nineteenth- and twentieth-century representations of telephone trespassers work to assure the superiority of whiteness, maleness, and economic privilege, and to contain any threats the telephone might pose to that authority. Yet even those telephone fictions which most powerfully confirm the status quo contain a technological ambivalence that interferes with the perfect transmission of the dominant discourse, allowing dissenting voices on the line. As a paradoxical icon pitting socioeconomic authority against democratic defiance, the telephone provides a powerfully charged site for imagining revolutionary conversions of social space.
Issue Date:2005
Description:474 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2005.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI3199087
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-28
Date Deposited:2005

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