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Vaudevisuals Bookshelf ~ ‘Canadian Carnival Freaks…’

Canadian Carnival Freaks and the Extraordinary Body by Jane Nichols book cover

Canadian Carnival Freaks and the Extraordinary Body, 1900-1970s

by Jane Nicholas

“This book represents the first in-depth scholarly examination of the freak show in Canada, an institution with deep roots in our popular consciousness. Jane Nicholas has produced a significant addition to our understanding of the history of Canadian entertainment, attitudes towards children, and the social construction of able-bodiedness.”

Keith Walden, Department of History, Trent University

“In Canadian Carnival Freaks and the Extraordinary Body, 1900−1970s, Jane Nicholas seamlessly weaves together multiple histories: the history of the body, of children and childhood, of the working class family, of the cultural and social history of the carnival and the ‘freak show,’ among a number of others. Meticulously researched and sensitively argued, Nicholas adds immeasurably to our understanding of the central role that marginalized Canadians, particularly those with embodied differences, played in shaping broader ideas of normalcy, social acceptability, productive work, and cultural consumption.”

Mona Gleason, Department of Educational Studies, University of British Columbia

“Working backwards from the last CNE ‘freak show’ in 1973, Nicholas demonstrates the workings of state and business that made the shows fundamental to a burgeoning modern popular culture − hence consumer culture. She positions the freak show as integral to a ‘modern exhibitionary complex’ focused on the body as spectacle, an innovative approach to the power relations inherent in race, gender, and class, as well as the lesser discussed, but nonetheless critical, categories of age and ability. In this provocative and exciting book, above all a welcome addition to the growing historiography on disability, the author adds much to understandings of the ‘normal’ body as historically contingent, socially defined, and culturally performed.”

Cynthia Comacchio, Department of History, Wilfrid Laurier University

“Original, careful research combined with insightful analysis makes this book an important contribution to our understanding of popular culture and human variation.”

Robert Bogdan, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Syracuse University

CNE Midway 1920 City of Toronto

AN EXCERPT

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