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Transforming the Cultural Economy for Little Readers: Print-Based Adaptations for Children in Nineteenth-Century America

Maley, Rachel A. (2021) Transforming the Cultural Economy for Little Readers: Print-Based Adaptations for Children in Nineteenth-Century America. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This dissertation explores the production history of print-based adaptations for children as a category of writing and publishing for a dedicated market segment, contributing to the present growth in the study of adaptation in children’s literature and nineteenth-century American literature in recent years. Print-based adaptations for children that adapt culturally relevant novels, plays, ballads, folk tales, and fairy tales are typically understood as abridgments, simplified retellings, and bowdlerizations. This dissertation offers an integrated methodological approach for studying these texts in the American print market to broaden these limited conceptions by bringing these texts together in the same study to constitute a corpus of their own. I argue that the myriad of print transformations produced from transatlantic and domestic sources showcases textual and material interventions and innovations meshed in the development, not on the periphery, of nineteenth-century children’s literature.
In each chapter, I contextualize adaptation for child readers in the American context, examining the strategies used to transmit stories from adult to child readerships, which rely on integrated ideological, pedagogical, and commercial processes. I argue that the period’s adaptation processes for children did not remain static or reflect a singular approach, displaying the variety of ways in which readers are encouraged to interact with shared print through books produced and marketed especially for them. The first half addresses how adaptation via children’s editions, facilitated by solitary and family reading protocols, attempts to restrict and supervise child readers. These books encourage reading modes of didactic utility, which I refer to as reading labors, and function to cultivate the cultural capital of the white middle classes. Then, the second half shifts from the textual displays of reading practices to two case studies that challenge the reading labor model and show how print remediations like paper doll shape books and the vast proliferation of toy books by the McLoughlin Bros. emphasize leisurely, imaginative, and playful reading modes. When treated as textual and material transformations in a professional print field that fostered the growth of juvenile publishing, nineteenth-century adaptations for children are shown to encompass complexity and are worthy of our sustained attention.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Maley, Rachel A.rahochendoner@gmail.comrah910000-0001-9236-3834
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairWeikle-Mills, Courtneycaw57@pitt.educaw57
Committee MemberCarr, Jeanjcarr@pitt.edujcarr
Committee MemberCarr, Stephenscarr@pitt.eduscarr
Committee MemberZboray, Ronaldzboray@pitt.eduzboray
Date: 8 October 2021
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 29 July 2021
Approval Date: 8 October 2021
Submission Date: 6 August 2021
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 322
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > English
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: children's literature, adaptation studies, nineteenth-century American literature, transatlantic studies, book history
Date Deposited: 08 Oct 2021 19:18
Last Modified: 08 Oct 2021 19:18


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