essay 2 revisedrach

essay 2 revisedrach - Page 1 Victor Jack Mathieux Beranek...

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Page 1 Victor Jack Mathieux Beranek November 09, 2007 2 nd Essay Assignment Riis Criticized Unjustly Often , people criticize others for doing something that they do themselves or they unjustly accuse others of doing wrong. In “The Archaeology of Urban Landscapes: Explorations in Slumland”, Alan Mayne and Tim Murray discuss the importance of using different perspectives to analyze the urban landscape. They criticize the way in which social reformers of the 19 th century describe slums by stating that “[s]lums are constructions of the imagination: a stereotype that was fashioned in the early nineteenth century by… social reformers” (Mayne and Murray 1). They indirectly attack writers, such as Jacob Riis, for using biased descriptions and for only analyzing their subjects from one perspective. Though Mayne and Murray have a valid point that stereotypes created by other people, in this case writers, cloud people’s judgments, their criticisms do not apply to Riis’s writing. Although Riis uses some stereotypes, the carefully researched content of his book, How the Other Half Lives, reveals that he does not deserve Mayne and Murray’s harsh criticisms. Riis uses interviews with immigrants, contemporary rent prices, actual tenement floor-plans, specific details regarding material culture, and personal accounts of the people’s experiences. His writings make the reader understand “how the other half lives.” Riis’s combination of a multitude of viewpoints is
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the very style that Mayne and Murray claim to be lacking in the works of social reformers. Mayne and Murray write that their book “unravels conventional historical understandings in order to trace the actualities of working-class neighborhoods that have been marginalized and demonized as notorious slums where poverty, deviance, and criminality intersected” (Mayne and Murray 1). It is true that slums often carry a negative connotation; however, their claim that other social reformers created the preconceived ideas of slums that involved criminality and deviance suggests that Riis
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essay 2 revisedrach - Page 1 Victor Jack Mathieux Beranek...

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