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Selling the Sixteenth President in Contemporary America
From Lincoln-themed cocktails and waffle-parlors to high-tech museums and steamy romance novels, the image of Abraham Lincoln so permeates the national imagination that we now find him in the unlikeliest of places. In
, Jackie Hogan examines the uses (and abuses) of the sixteenth president in the United States today. The book takes readers on a journey through the little white lies of Lincoln tourism, and offers a front-row seat as the martyr president is invoked in heated political debates over such issues as homosexuality, abortion, and the “war on terror.” Readers enter classrooms that use an idealized Honest Abe to “Lincolnize” American schoolchildren. And readers step into the alternate universe of Lincoln fiction that transforms the Rail Splitter, by turns, into a hapless time-traveler, a sentimental cyborg, an axe-wielding zombie slayer, or a frontier heart-throb.
is more than a tour through the thriving “Lincoln industry” today. Whether in staid biographies, blockbuster films, school pageants, or sleeping pill advertisements, Hogan shows how the use of the Lincoln image reveals the nation’s shared fears and fascinations. The book analyzes the ways we employ Lincoln today in our political, ideological, personal, and national struggles; the ways we simultaneously deify and commercially exploit him; the ways he is packaged and sold in the marketplace of American ideas. In learning about “Lincoln, Inc.,” we learn about ourselves, about who we think we are, and who we wish we could be.
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Size: 6 x 9
978-1-4422-0954-1 • Hardback • November 2011 •
978-1-4422-0956-5 • eBook • October 2011 •
Social Science / Popular Culture
Social Science / Anthropology / General
Social Science / Anthropology / Cultural
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is chair of the Sociology Department at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois. She is the author of
Gender, Race and National Identity: Nations of Flesh and Blood
Chapter 1: Lincoln, Inc.: Selling the Sixteenth President
Selling Abraham Lincoln
An Outsider’s Perspective on Lincoln
Chapter 2: Mr. Lincoln’s Coattails: Marketing, Memorabilia, and Presidential Tourism
On the Road with Lincoln
An Outsider’s Perspective on Lincoln: Commodification, Simulation, and Riding the Rail Splitter’s Coattails
Chapter 3: Packaging the President: Lincoln Biographies
“Among the Noblest of the Nation’s Treasures”: Themes in Lincoln Biographies
Hogs, Books, and Indians: Anecdotes in Lincoln Biographies
The Quotes Maketh the Man: Lincoln in His Own Words
Lincoln Lovers and Lincoln Haters: Disputations in Lincoln Biographies
An Outsider’s Perspective on Lincoln: Framing the Sixteenth President
Chapter 4: Telling Fictions: Lincoln in Literature, Television, and Film
From Sentimentality to Sensationalism: The Evolution of the Fictional Lincoln
Lincoln in Biographical Fiction: The Sixteenth President as Boy Scout
Lincoln in Period Suspense: The MacGuffin President
Lincoln in Contemporary Suspense: The Unimpeachable President
Lincoln in Romance Novels: The Pinup President
Lincoln in Science Fiction and Fantasy: The Great Transmogrifier
An Outsider’s Perspective on Lincoln: Desire, Social Structure, and the Cultural Production of Lincoln
Chapter 5: What Would Lincoln Do? The Sixteenth President in Twenty-First-Century Politics
In Lincoln We Trust: Lincoln and Legitimacy
The Fight for Lincoln’s Soul
Emancipation Proclamations: Homosexuality and Abortion
Whitewashing Lincoln? The Great Emancipator in Racial Politics
An Outsider’s Perspective on Lincoln: Manufacturing Historical Reputations
Chapter 6: A Is for Abe: Teaching Lincoln
Lessons in Lincoln
Picturing Abe: Lincoln in Children’s Picture Books
Nods to Diversity: The Lincoln Era in High School Textbooks
Silence Is Golden: What Lessons in Lincoln Leave Out
An Outsider’s Perspective on Lincoln: The Lincolnization of American Children
Chapter 7: Lincoln under Glass: The Great Emancipator in American Museums
On Curators and Curiosities
What Lies Beneath: Unifying Themes in Lincoln Exhibits
Saint Abe: The Veneration of Lincoln
An Outsider’s Perspective on Lincoln: Profiting from the Past
Chapter 8: Selling Lincoln: Who Do We Think We Are?
The Barber, the Seamstress, and the Abolitionists: African Americans in the Lincoln Narrative
Lessons from the Anti Lincolns: Who Do We (Not) Want to Be?
An Outsider’s Perspective on Lincoln: The Sixteenth President in the “Imagined Community”
Coda: In Defense of Lincoln, Inc.
About the Author
More books have been written about Abraham Lincoln than any other president. Hogan (sociology, Bradley Univ.) adds an indispensable addition to this vast realm. The author sampled biographies, textbooks, children's books, films, museums, and historic sites related to Lincoln to suggest that Lincoln the icon has come to represent the nation as a whole, or what Americans wish to believe about the nation. Lincoln especially embodies the American dream of upward mobility and opportunity. His image changed over time from the saintly, reverential portrayals of the early twentieth century to later speculation about depression or homosexuality or his marriage with Mary Todd Lincoln. Most sources praise Lincoln as the Great Emancipator, savior of the Union, and advocate of racial equality. They omit his statements about an innate difference between the races that would forbid them from living together as equals, statements favoring colonization of blacks out of the country, or indulgence in 'darky' jokes. Hogan suggests Americans ignore Lincoln's less than exemplary traits because they do not want to see them in themselves. The sanitized Lincoln narrative 'offers affirmation of white nobility and absolution for racist sins of the past.' Outstanding, balanced, and provocative.
Essential. All levels/libraries.
Hogan (sociology, Bradley Univ.;
Gender, Race and National Identity
) considers the many ways Americans have used Abraham Lincoln—from his death to the present—to purvey ideas, interests, and all manner of goods. She argues that what we 'see' and present in Lincoln really mirrors what we see and want for ourselves. Because so many different people traded on and in the Lincoln image and myths about him and because of the ambiguities inherent in the Lincoln story, Lincoln became the American 'everyman,' which, Hogan suggests, has the paradoxical effect of making him more important as the embodiment of American identities and less valuable as a historical figure. Lincoln is lost in the inventions and myths Americans have made out of him, which they have then sold for political, pedagogical, commercial, and ideological purposes. VERDICT Hogan sometimes strains to fit the behavioral habits of Lincoln users into sociological categories, but her overall tour of Lincoln in our midst and on our minds shows how an invented Lincoln, or any such symbol, can make a brand more important than the real thing. May be of interest to historians of image-making or of Lincoln and to students in American studies.
It's an accepted part of the American narrative that Abraham Lincoln was a living embodiment of the American dream and one of our greatest presidents. However, Hogan's (
Gender, Race, and National Identity
) sociological study shows every generation interprets Lincoln differently according to its own values, hopes, and fears. Her exhaustive research demonstrates how American opinions about Lincoln serve mostly to feed the current national identity and the purposes of interest groups quoting him. She analyzes memoir, fiction, Lincoln's place in education, and the commercial use of his identity, especially in places he lived. Moving deftly between extremely academic and very accessible language, readers can engage with the text and thoughtfully consider Hogan's perspective. Those curious about history and the shared American cultural narrative will embrace Hogan's work and look at cultural mythology with a more critical eye.
Hogan is particularly good in her examination of how people have marketed Lincoln over the years, how they've used Lincoln to market themselves, and how Lincoln is often appropriated for modern political purposes. . . . Hogan's insights are intelligent and provocative. Her book should be especially valuable in Springfield—unquestionably, the corporate headquarters of Lincoln, Inc.
The State Journal-Register
Lincoln, above all other U.S. presidents—even George Washington—continues to have an active afterlife in our popular imagination. It's he who appeared in an episode of the original Star Trek that centered on the conflict between good and evil. It's he who is the subject of best-selling biographies, novels, and analyses; and who is cited by both conservatives and liberals to support their policies. Hogan surveys how Lincoln is 'sold' (presented to the public) in seven different venues: merchandizing ($300 for the autograph of the son of Lincoln's druggist, $3.4 million for a signed Lincoln letter), packaging his reputation as mythic, in fiction, for ideological spin, in education, as represented in museums, and what our view of Lincoln tells us about ourselves. This book isn't necessarily for Lincoln fans, as it's not interested in the man himself so much as how he is perceived by history. Specifically, Hogan is interested in how Lincoln is a barometer of our shifting tastes and fascinations. The earliest biographies, for instance, painted Lincoln as a flawless hero. Over time the marble was chipped away to reveal a more conflicted man and politician, and today's authors go so far as to speculate about his mental state and sexual orientation. While this book is not particularly academic in tone, Hogan makes excellent use of charts to present how often certain themes, anecdotes, or individuals are referenced in books about Lincoln, as well as the racial and gender makeup of visitors to the various memorials.
We see things not as they are but as we are, goes an old cliché about history. In a new twist, sociologist Jackie Hogan proceeds to learn about us by finding out how we have viewed Abraham Lincoln. I learned about Lincoln in romance novels, children's books, even science fiction—and had a good time in the process.
James W. Loewen, author of Lies My Teacher Told Me and The Confederate and Neo-Confederate Reader
In this innovative evaluation of Abraham Lincoln as object, Jackie Hogan parses the ways in which Americans have ‘seen’ Lincoln in material culture, tourism, books and museums. Deeply researched and well-conceptualized,
Lincoln Inc.: The Selling of the Sixteenth President in Contemporary America
is a thoughtful addition to not just our understanding of Lincoln, but more importantly our contemporary political culture. In Hogan’s work the man for all ages becomes a revealing mirror reflecting our age—our values and aspirations, hopes and expectations. This book is of interest not just to those who concentrate on Lincoln but to any American who wants to appreciate the uses of the past to the present.
Jean H. Baker, Goucher College, author of Mary Todd Lincoln: A Biography
is a lovely and clever book that explores the manipulative uses of image-making and collective memory surrounding Abraham Lincoln. Always accessible and at times quite humorous, it’s a terrific read.
David Grazian, University of Pennsylvania, author of Mix it Up: Popular Culture, Mass Media, and Society
• Winner, CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title (2012)
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