Grad(e) School

001From: Kasson, John F. Houdini, Tarzan, and the Perfect Man: The White Male Body and the Challenge of Modernity in America. New York: Hill and Wang, 2001.

“How big a man are you? Your weekly pay envelope will answer this question. The dollars per week you earn prove your bigness or littleness–your importance or unimportance–whether trained or untrained.” –From an advertisement for a correspondence school in System, November 1911. Courtesy of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. (Kasson 176)

“Tarzan of the Apes: A Romance of the Jungle” from the October 1912 issue of The All-Story. Illustration by Clinton Pettee. Courtesy of the Edgar Rice Burroughs Memorial Collection, University of Louisville. (Kasson 206)

Left side (my writing): “In the past, the man has been first; in the future, the system must be first.” –Frederick Winslow Taylor (1911)

Right side (my writing): “I am Tarzan. I am a great killer. There be none among you as mighty as Tarzan. Let his enemies beware.” –Edgar Rice Burroughs (1912)


This is the handout accompanying my senior thesis at Elmhurst College presented in December 2001. My thesis: Tarzan of the Apes provided a hyper-masculine alternative to what many people thought were the emasculating effects of modern American culture in the early twentieth century.

I used this paper as a writing sample in my applications to various graduate schools in 2003 and 2004. Apparently my Tarzan research didn’t move administrators enough to accept me.