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Typecasting: On the Arts and Sciences of Human Inequality Paperback – April 1, 2008

4.7 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

EWEN & EWEN is an authorial sobriquet assumed by Stuart Ewen and Elizabeth Ewen in no particular order. Elizabeth Ewen is Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Department of American Studies at SUNY College at Old Westbury. Stuart Ewen is CUNY Distinguished Professor of Film & Media Studies at Hunter College and in the Ph.D. Programs in History and Sociology at The CUNY Graduate Center.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Seven Stories Press; Revised edition (2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1583227768
  • ISBN-13: 978-1583227763
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 1.4 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,082,279 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Aderyn VINE VOICE on February 4, 2009
Format: Paperback
Why do we typecast? If you're a thoughtful person, you can probably come up with a reasonable response: Typecasting helps us sort through information quickly. The cowboy in the white hat will be the good guy, the blonde will be an airhead, the black person will be...President of the United States? Even to argue that there is every good reason for the black person to be president is to acknowledge the extent to which typecasting affects our thinking.

But isn't it useful to be able to sort through information quickly? Isn't that why typecasting evolved to begin with? Certainly, it's important to recognize friend or foe quickly and take action, especially if our senses register "foe." And we are able to recognize foes quickly because their stereotypes have been defined. Thus, we are easily able to avoid getting on the plane with that Middle Eastern group; in fact, perhaps the airline will refuse to allow them to board. What? They're actually US-born citizens? Well, that'll teach them to walk around looking like Muslims, won't it? Oh...they are Muslims? Well, the airline officials were simply responding to the established research that helps them identify terrorists.

"Typecasting: On the Arts and Sciences of Human Inequality," takes us right to the heart of that research. Typecasting did not evolve as science documented what we know about stereotypes; what we think we know about stereotypes has driven the (so-called) scientific documentation. "Typecasting" leads the reader from curiosity cabinets to physiognomy, on through phrenology (with its skull charts documenting everything from breathing power to parental love) and body typing, which makes it possible to identify criminals, dullards, and perverts at a glance (just think how useful that's going to be at your office!
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Format: Hardcover
This book is absolutely amazing. It tracks the evolution of stereotypes as an effort to justify imperialism and various sorts of racial, ethnic, and gender inequality to serve the needs of the wealthy. It's written with humor and compassion, and will open your eyes to many of the ugly ways we are enslaved to the prejudices and power structures of the past. If you're looking at this book, you're probably somewhat politically conscious and a respecter of human rights, and are just looking for reviews before going to buy it from your local bookseller. At least, I hope so. Buy it, and buy it locally. It makes the unfathomable merely complex.
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Format: Paperback
A fascinating "must read" Though it covers cultural/historic events and movement you may be familiar with, but it does so with an analysis that places it within its social and historic context. It is organized in such a way that it peals back layer upon layer to expose more and more and along the way answers the most important questions "Why?" and "Who stands to benefit?"
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Format: Paperback
Ever wonder why The Museum of Natural History is so popular? Have you ever really thought the fascination with viewing others from a position of better or worse than rather than equal to?

I've had the pleasure to be a student of Stuart Ewen for two semesters. Crafted by the same dedication and passion he brings to the classroom, Typecasting communicates the complexities of dominant social and historical forces that created stereotypes.

As Walter Lippmann, the man who is known for creating the word stereotype, said, "The real environment is altogether too big, too complex..And, although we have to act in that environment, we have to reconstruct it on a simpler model before we can manage it."

As a future media maker, this book helped me understand the benefits AND limitations of the "simpler" model.
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By ^_^ on September 4, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book was required for my "Movies and Multicultural Images" college course. It is written in a comical, yet easy to understand way, providing an interesting outlook on the impact of mass media on human inequality.
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Format: Hardcover
Co-written by recognized consumer culture historian Stuart Ewen, Typecasting: On the Arts and Sciences of Human Inequality is a plain-terms, no-holds-barred look at the long-running practice of science warped to serve prejudice. Though the word "typecasting" refers to a common practice in cinema and mass-media to pick certain types of actors for certain roles, Typecasting covers discrimination in all aspects of human society. From Johann Friedrich Blumenbach, King George's court physician who subdivided humanity into five unequal categories during the Declaration of Independence era, to early twentieth-century birth control advocate Margaret Sanger's view of birth control as a means to curb the procreation of "socially degenerate" populations "unfit" for democracy, to the 2005 president of Harvard University's claim that "issues of intrinsic aptitude" explain the under representation of women in the sciences and mathematics, Typecasting leaves no stone unturned from ancient taxonomies of human difference to modern-day battlegrounds of ideas. Of particular interest is the elucidation of how religion is often dragged into prejudice, with inequality or second-class citizenship depicted as God's will in past centuries and the current century. An absolute "must-have" for sociology shelves, enthusiastically recommended for public and college libraries alike.
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