Date of Award

Fall 12-2017

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Anthropology and Sociology

Committee Chair

Dr. Bridget Hayden

Committee Chair Department

Anthropology and Sociology

Committee Member 2

Dr. Teresa S. Welsh

Committee Member 2 Department

Library and Information Science

Committee Member 3

Dr. Stacy Creel

Committee Member 3 Department

Library and Information Science

Committee Member 4

Dr. H. Edwin Jackson

Committee Member 4 Department

Anthropology and Sociology

Abstract

In her lifetime, Lois Lenski wrote, illustrated, and otherwise contributed to more than one hundred books for children and preteens. This study focuses on Lenski’s regional books for preteens, novels that Lenski claimed were written from real life. Using interpretive narrative analysis, this study evaluates two of Lenski’s regional novels: Strawberry Girl (1945), the 1946 Newbery award-winner and second installment in the American Regional series, and High-Rise Secret (1966), the eleventh installment in the Roundabout America series, focusing specifically on Lenski’s creative process. The analysis of Lenski’s works was contextualized using literature focusing on the concepts of character representation, authority, power, and agency. As such, this study also addresses children’s books as cultural artifacts alongside issues of socialization and identity creation. Historically, the focus of the period in which Lenski was writing her regional novels is on the creation of a national unity and identity following such events as World War II. However, this national identity is inherently biased in favor of the ethnically White considering its development prior to the period of social change inspired by the Civil Rights movement. While the study found that there was little to no difference between character and environment representation when comparing the real-life situations and the novels, the narrative structure, content construction, and predominance of ethnically White characters demonstrate that both the books and their author were products of their time.

ORCID ID

orcid.org/0000-0002-6956-4942

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