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Resources: Abstracts of American Studies Dissertations

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Vandell, Kathy Scales. "The Everlasting If: American National Identity in Children's Historical Fiction, 1865-1965," University of Maryland, College Park, January 1991. Advisor: R. Gordon Kelly (2, 11, 12)

This study examines children’s historical fiction as a mechanism of cultural transmission, describing how four generations of Americans between 1865 and 1965 defined national identity (the socially-constructed set of ideal behaviors ascribed to one’s own nation). Books of children’s historical fiction and professional discourse in periodicals were studied to trace the connections between the social locations, experiences, and professional conventions of the writers and the definitions of national identity they created. The analysis revealed a shifting emphasis in those definitions over time from loyalty, duty, and obedience to justice, responsibility, and toleration of dissent.