Now You See Me, Now You Don't: Fanny Fern's Private Theatricals in Ruth Hall: A Domestic Tale of the Present Time (1854)

Dietrich Harer


The essay discusses Fanny Fern's autobiographical narrative Ruth Hall (1854) in the context of the emerging entertainment industry in antebellum America. A brief analysis of Fern's narrative strategies, focusing on aspects of the characters' visual exposure, reveals that Fern's selfportrait as the "authentic" and independent Ruth Hall is in complex ways implicated in the very mechanisms she purports to confront. 

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