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Accident SocietyFiction, Collectivity, and the Production of Chance$
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Jason Puskar

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780804775359

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804775359.001.0001

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The Feminization of Chance

The Feminization of Chance

(p.148) Chapter 4 The Feminization of Chance
Accident Society

Edith Wharton

Crystal Eastman

Stanford University Press

This chapter examines the industrial accident crisis that arose in the early twentieth century by offering a reading of Edith Wharton's 1907 novel, The Fruit of the Tree in relation to Crystal Eastman's influential study of industrial injuries, Work Accidents and the Law (1910). The feminization of chance—in which modern conceptions of chance challenged masculine fantasies of power, self-sufficiency, and control—opened the door to important progressive reforms implemented by and for women. Both Wharton and Eastman were interested in industrial accidents around the peak of the accident problem in 1907, and thus can be read in relation to an influential reform movement known as “welfare maternalism.” Eastman's study came at a critical juncture in the work safety debate and shows how male workers attempted to rehabilitate their liberal capacities through strategic self-endangerment. Wharton's The Fruit of the Tree reveals that women also practiced a similar strategy.

Keywords:   Edith Wharton, Crystal Eastman, feminization, chance, The Fruit of the Tree, industrial injuries, Work Accidents and the Law, industrial accidents, welfare maternalism, self-endangerment

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