Girls Who Went Wrong: Prostitutes in American Fiction, 1885-1917

Synopsis

The period 1885 to 1917 saw thousands of American crusaders working hard to "save the fallen women," but little on the part of American social protest writers. In this first work on the subject, Laura Hapke examines how writers attempted to turn an outcast into a heroine in a literature otherwise known for its puritanical attitude toward the fallen woman. She focuses on how these authors (all male) expressed late-Victorian conflicts about female sexuality. If, as they all maintained, women have an innate preference for chastity, how could they account for the prostitute? Was she a sinner, suggesting the potential waywardness of all women? Or, if she was a victim, what of her "depravity"?

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