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Cheap Amusements


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Table of Contents


1. The Homosocial World of Working-Class Amusements
2. Leisure and Labor
3. Putting on Style
4. Dance Madness
5. The Coney Island Excursion
6. Cheap Theater and the Nickel Dumps
7. Reforming Working Women's Recreation

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The dilemmas of work and leisure for women at the turn-of-the-century

About the Author

Kathy Peiss is Associate Professor of History and Women’s Studies at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.


"Peiss has made a major contribution to feminist scholarship...in helping to restore working-class women to history." --International Journal of the History of Sport "In her beautifully written, meticulously documented, and precisely argued study, [the author] describes in detail how young working women spent their free time and money." --David Nasaw, dissent "The author is at her best in her 'case studies' of the evolving patterns of activity, socialization, and culture in those dance halls, amusement parks, and motion picture theaters." --Susan Esterbrook Kennedy, The Journal of American History "Cheap Amusements take[s] us beyond the flat stereotypes of 19th-century poor and laboring women... Peiss' extensive research provides us with a wealth of details about amusements parks, early silent-movie plots, and dance styles in the working-class dance palaces of the city. She traces the development of Coney Island from a male-recreation bastion of gambling houses, saloons, and brothels to a mixed-sex resort of concert halls, dance pavilions, and variety shows where women occupied the audience as well as the stage... Peiss places prostitution within the context of a range of exchanges between women and men...[which] gave women access to more of the world than their wages alone could bring them, but they also enforced their dependency and rendered them vulnerable to coercion and exploitation." --Lisa Duggan, Ms. Magazine

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