Debutante: Rites and Regalia of American Debdom - CultureAmerica (Hardback)
  • Debutante: Rites and Regalia of American Debdom - CultureAmerica (Hardback)
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Debutante: Rites and Regalia of American Debdom - CultureAmerica (Hardback)

(author)
£32.50
Hardback 224 Pages / Published: 30/04/2004
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It is an institution that seems almost hopelessly out of date, a social relic of bygone times. The very word ""debutante"" evokes images of prim, poised beauty, expensive gowns, and sumptuous balls, all of which seem anachronistic in these post-women's liberation times. But as Karal Ann Marling reveals, debdom in America is alive and well and ever evolving. For thousands of young women every year, the society debut remains a vital rite of passage, a demonstration of female power; debs continue to be viewed as the finest flowers of a distinctive American culture. T he debut and its offshoots - the high school prom, the sorority presentation, assorted beauty pageants - continue to emphasize celebrity, class, and community. But why does this peculiar tradition persist? Marling has the answer, as she demystifies debdom and the ""long-term American hankering after the trappings of royalty."" Debutante presents a penetrating and entertaining look at American debdom from the colonial era to the present day. Debbing has always been a performance art, created by and for women.

Publisher: University Press of Kansas
ISBN: 9780700613175
Number of pages: 224
Weight: 490 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 23 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
"An engaging history of debdom as both ritual and rite that took shape over two centuries of change. Marling chronicles the various iterations of the American debutante, its shifting form, and the transforming social and economic landscape responsible for such changes. The book reveals much about the entanglements of gender, wealth and status, and race as it explores this ever-evolving institution."--Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth

"A thorough exploration of the form and content of female coming-of-age celebrations. . . . Written in an informal style, generously illustrated, it is readily accessible to a popular as well as an academic audience."--The Annals of Iowa

"Marling shows off her scholarly research skills and still maintains a lively, almost coquettish tone. Her style matches her subject matter, and the effect is charming and enlightening."--Publishers Weekly

"It would be easy to write a book making fun of all this, but Marling doesn't do that. She has an obvious affection for her subject, which she treats with respect."--St. Paul Pioneer Press


"Karal Ann Marling's Debutante is a delightful romp through the history of the rites and rituals surrounding the debutante, the American girl being presented to society. At the same time, this is a serious and engrossing history of the intersections of race, class, and gender around the figure of a glorified girl--from the debs of New York high society to African-American 'coming out' adolescents, Hispanic quincea eras, and the ubiquitous high school senior proms of the decades since World War II. . . . A well-written, fast-paced narrative that both scholars and general readers will enjoy."--Lois Banner, author of American Beauty

"Marling marries the voice of a truly dishy gossip columnist to an astute analysis of American rites and rituals--what fun! And who would imagine that a history of the debutante could tell us so much about the diversity of American life and our changing notions of class, race, and democratic possibility?"--Beth Bailey, author of Sex in the Heartland and From Front Porch to Backseat

"Karal Ann Marling has written a lively, engaging, wide-ranging account of a quintessential American social rite. And she convincingly shows how traditions that once marked social exclusiveness have been adapted by a variety of American communities, from the Hispanic quincea era to Ukranian, Jewish, and African-American coming-of-age rituals. This book is readable and immensely likeable."--Joy Kasson, author of Marble Queens and Captives: Women in Nineteenth-Century American

"Teas, dances, germans, balls, cotillions--it all sounds so slight and pass . But, as Karal Ann Marling shows with such charm and skill in Debutante, such things have always mattered in an America that has never been quite as classless as it has pretended to be."--Frank Deford, NPR commentator and author of There She Is: The Life and Times of Miss America

"This is a delightful and significant book. The research is comprehensive and first-rate. The narrative is richly textured, and Marling's inimitable anecdotes help to hold the reader's interest throughout."--Michael Kammen, author of American Culture, American Tastes: Social Change and the Twentieth Century

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