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Incorrigibles and Innocents: Constructing Childhood and Citizenship in Progressive Era Comics

Incorrigibles and Innocents: Constructing Childhood and Citizenship in Progressive Era Comics

by Lara Saguisag


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Nominated for Eisner Award | Winner of the 2018 Ray and Pat Browne Award | Winner of the Charles Hatfield Book Prize from the CSS

Histories and criticism of comics note that comic strips published in the Progressive Era were dynamic spaces in which anxieties about race, ethnicity, class, and gender were expressed, perpetuated, and alleviated. The proliferation of comic strip children—white and nonwhite, middle-class and lower class, male and female—suggests that childhood was a subject that fascinated and preoccupied Americans at the turn of the century. Many of these strips, including R.F. Outcault’s Hogan’s Alley and Buster Brown, Rudolph Dirks’s The Katzenjammer Kids and Winsor McCay’s Little Nemo in Slumberland were headlined by child characters. Yet no major study has explored the significance of these verbal-visual representations of childhood. Incorrigibles and Innocents addresses this gap in scholarship, examining the ways childhood was depicted and theorized in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century comic strips. Drawing from and building on histories and theories of childhood, comics, and Progressive Era conceptualizations of citizenship and nationhood, Lara Saguisag demonstrates that child characters in comic strips expressed and complicated contemporary notions of who had a right to claim membership in a modernizing, expanding nation. 

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780813591766
Publisher: Rutgers University Press
Publication date: 10/05/2018
Pages: 248
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range: 16 - 18 Years

About the Author

LARA SAGUISAG is an assistant professor of English at the College of Staten Island-City University of New York. She is the author of several children’s books, such as Children of Two Seasons: Poems for Young People.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Introduction: Drawing the Lines
  1. Foreign Yet Familiar
  2. Crossing the Color Line
  3. Family Amusements
  4. The “Secret Tracts” of the Child’s Mind
  5. What Would You Do with Girls Like These?
Conclusion: Naughty Boys in a New Millennium

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