Gender, Race, and Nation in the Dear America Series Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/hx11xj90r

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  • Books and literature help children and young adults develop language, cognitive, and social skills. Additionally children's literature enables individuals to develop a deeper appreciation for their own, and others' cultures and histories. This thesis analyzes the young adult historical fiction series Dear America, published by Scholastic press, and examines how these books construct nation and racialized girlhood in the United States. The Dear America series features fictional diaries from girls at varying historical moments, and, with this in mind, I examine eight books from the series set during the Revolutionary War, Westward Expansion, and Civil War time periods. My analysis found that the Dear America series constructs sometimes contradictory notions of girlhood and nation. In the series I found that girlhood is constructed through the performance of daily feminized labor, heteronormativity, and resistance. Nation is constructed in the texts through a focus on foundational myths of the Revolutionary War and the figure of George Washington, as well as on racial hierarchies, and the rhetoric of individual persistence despite difficult situations.
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