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A “Leg Show Dance” in a Skyscraper: The Sequenced Mechanics of John Dos Passos's Manhattan Transfer

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 October 2020


Performing a historicized analysis of John Dos Passos's Manhattan Transfer (1925), this essay returns this understudied author to the center stage of modernist studies and includes the popular stage in accounts of the technologized mechanisms of modernist writing. By disclosing a deep correlation between the composite narrative tactics of Dos Passos's multilinear novel and the mass entertainments of this period, particularly Florenz Ziegfeld's annual Follies revues, it supplies new parameters for theorizing strategies of narration and characterization in modernist fiction vis-à-vis the technologies of popular entertainment and display in the early twentieth century. The discussion of Dos Passos's broad critique of the gendered specular economy of the modern metropolis in the era of Taylorism repositions his early writing as integral to the development of high modernism in the 1920s.

Research Article
Copyright © Modern Language Association of America, 2016

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