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Frank Merriwell and the Fiction of All-American Boyhood: The Progressive Era Creation of the Schoolboy Sports Story - Sport, Culture & Society (Paperback)
  • Frank Merriwell and the Fiction of All-American Boyhood: The Progressive Era Creation of the Schoolboy Sports Story - Sport, Culture & Society (Paperback)

Frank Merriwell and the Fiction of All-American Boyhood: The Progressive Era Creation of the Schoolboy Sports Story - Sport, Culture & Society (Paperback)

Paperback 320 Pages / Published: 30/09/2015
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Gilbert Patten, writing as Burt L. Standish, made a career of generating serialized twenty-thousand-word stories featuring his fictional creation Frank Merriwell, a student athlete at Yale University who inspired others to emulate his example of manly boyhood. Patten and his publisher, Street and Smith, initially had only a general idea about what would constitute Merriwell's adventures and who would want to read about them when they introduced the hero in the dime novel Tip Top Weekly in1896, but over the years what took shape was a story line that capitalized on middle-class fears about the insidious influence of modern life on the nation's boys.

Merriwell came to symbolize the Progressive Era debate about how sport and school made boys into men. The saga featured the attractive Merriwell distinguishing between "good" and "bad" girls and focused on his squeaky-clean adventures in physical development and mentorship.By the serial's conclusion, Merriwell had opened a school for "weak and wayward boys" that made him into a figure who taught readers how to approximate his example.

In Frank Merriwell and the Fiction of All-American Boyhood, Andersontreats Tip Top Weekly as a historical artifact, supplementing his reading of its text, illustrations, reader letters, and advertisements with his use of editorial correspondence, memoirs, trade journals, and legal documents. Anderson blends social and cultural history, with the history of business, gender, and sport, along with a general examination of childhood and youth in this fascinating study of how a fictional character was used to promote a homogeneous "normal" American boyhood rooted in an assumed pecking order of class, race, and gender.

Publisher: University of Arkansas Press
ISBN: 9781557286826
Number of pages: 320
Weight: 525 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 23 mm


"If ever a book deserved the adjective 'definitive, ' this book does....In producing this book, Ryan K. Anderson has done the world of dime novel scholarship a service.... I highly recommend Frank Merriwell and the Fiction of All-American Boyhood."

--Dime Novel Round-Up, Spring 2016

"A welcome addition to the literature on popular culture."

--CHOICE, June 2016

"Anderson's writing is swift and lucid. Moreover, his research is through and complemented by several illustrations that enhance his analysis. Readers interested in the Progressive Era, popular literature, publishing, gender studies, and sports will benefit from reading this book."

--Journal of American History, March 2017

"No other character in American Sports Literature awakened such admiration as Frank Merriwell, whose impact on twentieth-century boyhood Anderson brings to light."

--Journal of Sport History, Spring 2017

"Sheds new light on a crucial popular-culture phenomenon. Anderson's book will be essential for readers interested in sport literature, cultural theory, and gender studies."
--Tim Morris, author of Making the Team

"Anderson has written an intelligent study of one of the more popular cultural heroes of the Progressive period. For countless readers, Frank Merriwell was a genuine hero to be revered and imitated. Anderson's book shows us why."
--Journal of Social History

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