ABSTRACT

In Fighting the Flames, Sally contextualizes, historicizes, and theorizes the spectacular performance of fire at turn-of-the-twentieth century Coney Island. The performance of fire included staged exhibits, such as Fire and Flames and Fighting the Flames, and the real fires that plagued its history. While Coney Island placed fire center stage in its fire-based disaster spectacles, fire has continuously burned its own bridge, destroying the producer who wants to make fire the star of his show. The real conflagrations at Coney Island insert precisely what was missing from these staged performances: ephemerality, unpredictability, and newness of the present that serve as metaphors for not only fire but for the development of the metropolis and the advent of modernity.

 

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Dedication

Preface

Introduction

Part I

The Spectacular Performance of Fire Fighters and Fire

Chapter 1: Fighting Fire Fighters and the Public Performance of Heroism

Chapter 2: Urban Fire: Tenement Houses and Coney Island as Prometheus

Part II

Introduction: Fighting the Flames on Stage

Chapter 3: Fighting the Flames at Earl’s Court and the Louisiana Purchase Exposition

Chapter 4: Coney Island and Spectacle as Total-Body Experience

Chapter 5: Fire and Flames and Fighting the Flames at Coney Island

Conclusion: Creative Destruction and Elemental Performativity

Notes

Selected Bibliography

Index