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Serialized Citizenships: Periodicals, Books, and American Boys, 1840-1911

Designer: Brand: Scarecrow Press


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In the last few decades, scholars have turned their attention to constructions of masculinity and its influence on expressions of nationality and citizenship. Serialized Citizenships participates in and critiques these ongoing conversations about boyhood by examining works produced between 1840 and the first decade of the twentieth century. American boyhood has often been narrowly defined by nineteenth- and twentieth- century canonical texts, such as Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn, which represent boyhood as a time of rebellion against society. This book suggests that significant representations of American boyhood can be found elsewhere: in serialized texts published in middle-class magazines such as Youth's Companion and Our Young Folks, and also in less familiar children's periodicals, including Young American's Magazine of Self-Improvement and Boys of New York.

Author Lorinda Cohoon argues that through their regular publication, these forms of productions construct citizenships that are then adapted by readers from a wide variety of backgrounds―not just by the white middle-class boy readers for whom many of the serialized representations of boyhood were originally published. Cohoon analyzes serializations of Thomas Bailey Aldrich's Story of a Bad Boy and Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn, along with serializations published by Jacob Abbott, William Taylor Adams, Louisa May Alcott, and Frances Hodgson Burnett. Challenging the seemingly omnipresent "bad boyhood" that is still used to characterize American masculinity, this text examines cultural and textual evidence that reveals many other versions of boyhood citizenships that have been marginalized and sometimes ignored. The serializations and the surrounding periodical material also provide insights into texts that intervene in the construction of regional and national boyhood citizenships throughout the nineteenth century and continue to shape the ways citizenship is negotiated in the twentieth and twenty-

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