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Eyes: The Window into the American Soul:

American Studies 401 research presentation

Kacie Hope

on 22 December 2012

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Transcript of Eyes: The Window into the American Soul:

Kacie Hoppe Eyes: The Window into the American Soul:
Myths and Realities of Eye Color in American Culture Sonnet 159 The Boy/Girl Next Door Eyes Are the Window to the Soul... Madison Grant
American Layer, historian, conservationist, and eugenicist Behind Blue Eyes Science of Eye Color and Behavior
In what bright realm, what sphere of radiant thought
Did Nature find the model whence she drew
That delicate dazzling image where we view
Here on this earth what she in heaven wrought?
What fountain-haunting nymph, what dryad, sought
In groves, such golden tresses ever threw
Upon the gust? What heart such virtues knew?—
Though her chief virtue with my death is frought.
He looks in vain for heavenly beauty, he
Who never looked upon her perfect eyes,
The vivid blue orbs turning brilliantly –
He does not know how Love yields and denies;
He only knows, who knows how sweetly she
Can talk and laugh, the sweetness of her sighs.
-_Francesco Petrarch Since the turn of the 20th century, less than half of Americans were born with blue eyes, by the 1950's, less than one third of Americans were born with blue eyes. Today, only 1 in 6 Americans are born with blue eyes.

Why have blue and other light colored eyes continued to dominate American culture, while becoming less and less common than brown eyes among americans? 1865-1937 38 of 44 US presidents have had blue eyes
That's 86%.
Blue eyes are about 16% today
30% in 1950
and 50% in 1900

In addition to this skewed proportion on non brown eyed presidents, those with brown eyes have not been considered successful presidents. John Quincy Adams, Andrew Johnson, Chester A. Arthur, LBJ and Nixon

Andrew Johnson and Richard Nixon underwent impeachment proceedings

John Quincy Adams, Chester A. Arthur, and Lyndon Johnson failed to win a second term as president. Have the Blue or Green Eyes that you've Always Dreamed of Laser Surgery Surgical implant of colored disk Colored Contacts ~The Passing of the Great Race, 1916
Superior Nordic race characterized by light or brown hair, blue or light eyes, fair skin, straight, narrow nose, tall, and abundant body hair. ~Influenced the limited immigration from non-Nordic countries in Europe and the end of immigration from East Asia. Served as V.P. of Immigration Restriction League 1924-his death.
~anti-miscegenation: segregated races in regards to marriage and sex. Considered the most influential book on scientific racism. Sold over 16,000 copies. Translated into several languages. Popular from 1916-1930's. fell out of favor due to the Nazis. ~First non German book to be printed after the Nazis took power of Germany. Popular with many nazi supporters. Hitler wrote to grant and stated that The Passing of the Great Race was his "bible." This idea can be traced hundreds of years and has been attributed to:
Old English proverb (1545), Leonardo da Vinci, The Bible, Cicero (106-43 B.C.),
and Shakespeare, among others. "Eye color is of very great importance in race
determination because all blue, gray or green
eyes in the world to-day came originally from the
same source, namely, the Nordic race of northern
Europe. This light colored eye has appeared no-
where else on earth, is a specialization of this
subspecies of man only and consequently is
of extreme value in the classification of European
races. Dark colored eyes are all but universal
among wild mammals and entirely so among the
primates, man's nearest relatives. It may be
taken as an absolute certainty that all the original
races of man had dark eyes." -The Passing of the Great Race http://contactlenstalk.com/faq/colored/is-there-any-natural-colored-contacts-lenses.html http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/thu-august-30-2012/rnc-2012---the-road-to-jeb-bush-2016---paul-ryan-s-speech?xrs=share_copy http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xqzyvj_change-eye-color-permanently-brightocular-eye-color-change-surgery-eye-color-change-procedure_tech Dr. Gregg Homer is developing a 20 second procedure that will remove the melanin from brown eyes which will turn them blue http://www.cbc.ca/video/watch/News/ID=2187980074 More popular among females (4.6%) than males (1.6%). Also more popular among young people Blue and green are the most popular colors of contact lenses. Several shades of each color. Dangers: Ill fitting contacts can lead to erosion and tearing causing damage to vision. Infection which can lead to corneal scarring and ulcers which can lead to vision loss and blindness. also, conjunctivitis, swelling of the eye or an allergic reaction. There have been many scientific studies over the years that have used eye color as a basis of certain personality traits Acording to psycology today: Czech researchers showed photographs of brown and blue eyed men and women to a group of raters to rate the people in terms of dominance and attractiveness. They found brown-eyed males to be more dominant, even after they photoshoped the eye color, a diffrent group of people still chose the same men as more dominant. The researchers believe that this has to do with social feedback hypothesis, the special treatment and coddling that blue eyed babies get over brown eyed babies. A graduate student at Örebro University in Sweden, Mats Larsson, has linked iris pattern to personality traits. he belives that " the frequency of crypts (squiggly lines radiating out from the pupil) and furrows (circular lines curving around the outer edge of the iris). He found that a low frequency of crypts was significantly associated with tender-mindedness, warmth, trust, and positive emotions, whereas more distinct and extended furrows were associated with impulsiveness." (Dickinsion). Some researchers believe that light eyed people are more susceptible to alcoholism. One explanation for this is that brown or dark eyed people are more sensitive to arousal and drugs, meaning that they would also be more sensitive to alcohol, needing less to feel the affect, and decreasing the chance of physical addiction. (Bassett and Dabbs 535-7) Eyes are the window into the American soul; though there is no definitive scientific evidence linking personality and eye color and brown eyes have become more and more dominant in America, blue and other light colored eyes have remained the most popular and sought after hues. People are willing to risk one of their senses in order to obtain the American beauty standard. Pecola states, in Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye, "Adults, older girls, shops, magazines, newspapers, window sign - all the world had agreed that a blue-eyed, yellow-haired, pink-skinned doll was what every girl child treasured. 'Here,' they said, 'this is beautiful, and if you are on this day "worthy" you may have it.' The eyes being the window to the soul is a sentiment that has been around since before Christ, blue eyes have been treasured above all others for nearly as long and is perpetuated by "scientists" in America and by American culture. Like any other standard of beauty, blue eyes are arbitrary and say more about the society that values them than they do about themselves.
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