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Visual rhetoricians have often attempted to understand text-image arguments by privileging one medium over the other, either using text-based rhetorical principles or developing new image-based theories.
The question that this dissertation explores is what cultural narratives about reproduction and reproductive control emerge in the wake of this demographic shift.
What’s at stake in a woman’s decision to reproduce, for herself, her family, her nation? In order to explore these questions, this dissertation broadens the very term “birth control” from the technological and medical mechanisms by which women limit or prevent conception and birth to a conception of “controlling birth,” the societal and cultural processes that affect reproductive practices.
I conclude with a discussion of dissociative multimodal pedagogy, applying dissociation to the multimodal composition classroom.” is invested in both a historical consideration of economic conditions through the antebellum era and an examination of how spectral representations depict the effects of such conditions on local publics and individual persons.
From this perspective, the project demonstrates how extensively the period’s literature is entangled in the economic: in financial devastation, in the boundaries of seemingly limitless progress, and in the standards of value that order the worth of commodities and the persons who can trade for them.
By focusing on a variety of cultural texts—advertisements, fictional novels, historical writings, medical texts, popular print, and film—this project aims to create a sense of how these cultural productions work together to construct narratives about sexuality, reproduction, and reproductive control.
Relying heavily on a historicizing of these issues, my project shows how these texts—both fictional and nonfictional—create a rich and valid site from which to explore the development of narratives of sexuality and reproductive practices, as well as how these narratives connect to larger cultural narratives of race, class, and nation.
Drawing from the history of adolescence and the context of midcentury female juvenile delinquency, I argue that studios and teen girl stars struggled for decades with publicity, censorship, and social expectations regarding the sexual license of teenage girls.
Until the late 1950s, exploitation films and B movies exploited teen sex and pregnancy while mainstream Hollywood ignored those issues, struggling to promote teen girl stars by tightly controlling their private lives but depriving fan magazines of the gossip and scandals that normally fueled the machinery of stardom.
I argue that the space of the specter is a force of representation, an invisible site in which the uncertainties of antebellum economic and social change become visible.
I read this spectral space in canonical works by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe, Herman Melville, and Walt Whitman and in emerging texts by Robert Montgomery Bird, Theophilus Fisk, Fitz James O’Brien, and Edward Williams Clay.