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A Curious Education

A Curious Education

Mark Twain’s Corporate Persons

(p.1) 1 A Curious Education
The Freak-garde
Robin Blyn
University of Minnesota Press

This chapter discusses the exhibition of the conjoined twins Giacomo and Giovani Battista Tocci, who became the basis for Mark Twain’s two novels, Those Extraordinary Twins and Pudd’nhead Wilson. It argues that the freak-garde that emerged in these novels served as a response to the simultaneous rise of corporate capitalism and disenfranchisement of African Americans, both of which were enabled by the Supreme Court’s radical interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment. It examines the notion of the two novels conveying the powerful ties that bind the landmark Plessy v. Ferguson, the case that essentially robbed African Americans of their Fourteenth Amendment protections concerning equality. It addresses how the novels confirmed that the only way to enjoy legal protections is to disown the autonomy and integration of liberal subjectivity and to become a “corporate person”, and appropriating freak show aesthetics as a means of experimenting with this subject of incorporation.

Keywords:   conjoined twins, Giacomo Battista Tocci, Giovani Battista Tocci, Mark Twain, Those Extraordinary Twins, Pudd’nhead Wilson, freak-garde, corporate capitalism, disenfranchisement of African-Americans, Plessy v. Ferguson

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