It has been my good fortune, during the years in which I intermittently
researched and composed this book, to be part of an extraordinary
intellectual community at the University of Michigan. I have had won-
derful partners in inquiry outside Ann Arbor as well. Public thanking
is a sentimental practice I have come to understand and appreciate in
the course of this project; and this is my chance to express my gratitude
to those who have been—in the most utopian sense of the word—my
colleagues. I mean most of all those named below, but also many other
people who have contributed to the spirit of interdisciplinary adven-
ture and principled critique that has made my work possible: especially
locally, in the Programs in American Culture and Women’s Studies and
the English Department, and nationally, in the American Studies Asso-
ciation. Those who have sustained and helped me range from students
who were not concerned with the book I was writing but with whom
I had lively dialogues about issues and authors to scholars I have never
met but whose writing transformed my thinking. I hope that this study
in some measure reflects the exhilaration I have felt in conversations
over the past decade and more.
I am profoundly grateful to the colleagues who commented on the
manuscript and strengthened it by their suggestions. Sandra Zagarell
read every chapter at least once, and some chapters in several drafts—
often taking time she could not easily spare from her own work and
always offering encouragement and insightful suggestions in perfectly
balanced proportions. David Scobey and Jonathan Freedman were in-
dispensable interlocutors, and my conversations with them constantly
influenced me. I thank Rebecca Zurier and Abby Stewart for their gen-
erosity in supporting my efforts in their fields of expert knowledge,
in chapters 4 and 5, respectively. At a crucial moment, Sidonie Smith
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