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Idle Threats – Men and the Limits of Productivity in Nineteenth Century America - NYU Press Scholarship Online
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Idle Threats: Men and the Limits of Productivity in Nineteenth Century America

Andrew Lyndon Knighton


The nineteenth century witnessed an explosion of writing about unproductivity, with the exploits of various idlers, loafers, and “gentlemen of refinement” capturing the imagination of a country that was deeply ambivalent about its work ethic. This book documents this American obsession with unproductivity and its potentials, while offering an explanation of the profound significance of idle practices for literary and cultural production. While this fascination with unproductivity memorably defined literary characters from Rip Van Winkle to Bartleby to George Hurstwood, it also reverberated dee ... More

Keywords: unproductivity, work ethic, American culture, manhood, American modernity, productivity of the unproductive, art, frontier lands

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2012 Print ISBN-13: 9780814748909
Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016 DOI:10.18574/nyu/9780814748909.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Andrew Lyndon Knighton, author

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