Close Reading of a Dime Novel Seminar Paper

Pages: 4 (1160 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 4  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Doctorate  ·  Topic: Literature

Dime novel has a specific literary meaning, but has generally become term used to mean several different late 19th and early 20th century popular U.S. fictional stories that were true "dime novels" (costing a dime), story papers, 5- and 10-cent weekly libraries and early pulp magazines. The term was even used as late as the World War II era with a relatively unsuccessful resurgence of the pulp Western Dime Novels. In spirit, though, dime novels are the precursor to contemporary comics, graphic novels, paperbacks, and even popular television and movies based on this genre. The modern usage of the term, however, tends to mean a quickly written, less plot oriented potboiler (true crime, sensational actions, etc.), and is not particularly well regarded in a literary sense (Cullen).

Right around 1860 the term "dime novel" was a brand name. For instance, for fourteen years, Beadle's Dime Novels were a regularly published series of paper-covered booklets, every two weeks or so, for a total of 321. Each was a work of fiction with a sensational and melodramatic plot, and sold for ten cents

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(Dime Novels: Beadle's Dime Novels). What become important almost from the start was the manner in which these types of novels played a role in acculturation, information transference, and social and cultural etiquette in the 19th and early 20th centuries: When we look at some of the titles and subjects of this genre we see adventure stories, biographies, serial (soap-opera types), westerns, and novels in which behavior was explained (particularly for young ladies). We will look at a specific Dime Novel for these abstractions, but in general:

Seminar Paper on Close Reading of a Dime Novel Assignment

Acculturation -- Many readers of the Dime Novels were seeking to escape their lives of work and dreariness. This assumes, of course, that there was enough of a literate population to read the works. However, scholarship also points to the fact that many families gathered together to have at least one member read the latest in the series. They many have been escapist, but they were products of modernity to a number of reasons. They were part of mass production, and therefore tied to industrial technology. Being the first mass produced literature available to the general public, young adults had but two choices many times -- their school primer and the Dime Novel. Newspapers were not written for this level of reading, so the novel eschewed the values the publishers wished to promulgate.

Information Transferences -- Dime novels were filled with nostalgia and mythical stories of the past. Without access to libraries or mass media, often the Dime Novel was the manner in which information was transferred. The upper class received information in a different way, but the Dime Novel provided retelling of historical and current events in a politically correct manner.

Social and Cultural Etiquette -- Many of the messages that were included in the Dime Novel focused around Aesopian-like fables in which right is right and there is a clear distinction between good and bad. Children obeyed, work ethic predominated, romantic love without lust or overt sexuality was the norm, and in many ways, the messages both overt and covert conveyed industrialist capitalistic values (work hard, save, be part of a team, etc.). Thus, the dime novel commoditized culture by focusing on cultural production of wage labor, a capitalist economy, labor process with divides, tends to rationalize, and deskills work (Cox; Denning).

Case Analysis- The Western Dime Novel -- "The Adventures of Buffalo Bill from Boyhood To Manhood- The idea… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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