In this book, Gandal reveals how the slum, in the last decade of the nineteenth century, became the source of spectacle as never before (in newspapers, documentary accounts, photographs, and literature), and emerged as a subject for aesthetic, ethnographic, and psychological description. He argues that the development of these new concepts and styles for representing the urban and largely immigrant poor amounted to a revolution in ethics, and provides close readings of Jacob Riis's How the Other Half Lives and Stephen Crane's Maggie: A Girl of the Streets.

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