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Sensing ChicagoNoisemakers, Strikebreakers, and Muckrakers$
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Adam Mack

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780252039188

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252039188.001.0001

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A Revolutionary and a Puritan

A Revolutionary and a Puritan

Upton Sinclair and The Jungle

(p.71) Chapter 4 A Revolutionary and a Puritan
Sensing Chicago

Adam Mack

University of Illinois Press

This chapter analyzes Upton Sinclair's 1906 novel The Jungle to elucidate his sensory politics and his proposed indictment of industrial capitalism. The Jungle is a fictionalized account of Chicago's meatpacking industry and its appalling working conditions. Sinclair's exposés shocked readers' senses, turning their stomachs with descriptions of rats tossed into sausage hoppers. However, his novel also had much to say about how work in the meat factories dulled the senses of their workers. This chapter examines how Sinclair drew lines of class, ethnicity, and race in sensory terms in order to simultaneously express sympathy and solidarity as well as repulsion and social distance from immigrant workers in Back of the Yards. It also considers how Sinclair described the salvation—socialism—of the characters in The Jungle in non-sensory terms, arguing that he neglects to explain how socialism promised to rejuvenate the senses.

Keywords:   senses, Upton Sinclair, The Jungle, sensory politics, industrial capitalism, Chicago, meatpacking industry, ethnicity, immigrant workers, socialism

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