Date of Award

Summer 8-2016

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

Committee Chair

Dr. Eric Tribunella

Committee Chair Department

English

Committee Member 2

Dr. Jonathan Barron

Committee Member 2 Department

English

Committee Member 3

Dr. Luis Iglesias

Committee Member 3 Department

English

Committee Member 4

Dr. Alexandra Valint

Committee Member 4 Department

English

Abstract

“Cub Reporters” considers the intersections between children’s literature and journalism in the United States during their Golden Age of children’s literature, between the Civil War and World War I, approximately. I argue that in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, American children’s literature increasingly exposes journalism’s use of artifice in response to the industry’s efforts to conceal such use. In exposing journalism’s reliance on artifice, American children’s literature itself promotes artifice, but promotes it through the acknowledgement of its process. In so doing, we find the act of embracing this constructedness as a means to access individual agency; it reveals to child (and adult) readers their ability to deconstruct and create the world anew. I demonstrate this idea by analyzing works of children’s literature from this period that specifically address newspapers and the world of journalism. Artifice, as I employ the term in this project, broadly refers to apparatus—creative, psychological, or otherwise—devised and used to both communicate ideas and compel others into acknowledging those ideas. It can refer to works of individual invention or the production of larger social constructs—gender, race, class, childhood, adulthood. The intersections of children’s literature and journalism make especially clear the larger cultural phenomenon I see at work within American children’s literature, that of artifice’s liberating role through its exposure.

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