“Brawn and Bruises: Imaging Pittsburgh's Bodies of Work” | Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies
University of Pittsburgh

“Brawn and Bruises: Imaging Pittsburgh's Bodies of Work”

November 11, 2009 - 3:00pm
Edward Slavishak (Assistant Professor, History, Susquehanna Univ.)

Women's Studies

By the end of the nineteenth century, Pittsburgh emerged as a major manufacturing center. Its rise as a leading producer was fueled by machine technology and mass immigration, developments that fundamentally changed the industrial workplace. Because Pittsburgh’s major industries were almost exclusively male and renowned for their physical demands, the male working body came to symbolize multiple, often contradictory, narratives about strength and vulnerability, mastery and exploitation. Slavishak explores how Pittsburgh and the working body were symbolically linked in civic celebrations, the research of social scientists, the criticisms of labor reformers, advertisements, and workers’ self-representations. Combining labor and urban history with visual culture studies, he chronicles a heated contest to define Pittsburgh’s essential character at the turn of the twentieth century.

A native Pittsburgher, Slavishak earned a B.S. in social history from Carnegie Mellon University and a Ph.D. in history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His teaching and research are focused on American cultural history. He is the author of Bodies of Work: Civic Display and Labor in Industrial Pittsburgh, published in 2008 by Duke University Press.


Other publications include essays in Fleshed Out: Key Readings in Social and Cultural Studies of the Body and Imitation, Influence, and Advertising in the American Marketplace. He has published articles in The Journal of Family History, The Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, The Journal of Social History, and The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography. His current book project considers twentieth-century uses of photography and tourism in the Appalachian Mountains.

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