The story of the American self-made man carries a perennial interest in American literature and cultural studies. This book expands the study of such stories to include the writings of Frederick Douglass, Horatio Alger and James Weldon Johnson, and the work of silent comedians like Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd and Buster Keaton. Thomas Nissley examines the number of texts, from Reconstruction-era autobiographies to the films of the 30s, to show the sustained market value of status and personal authenticity in the era of contract and free labour.
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