New Book | Cub Reporters: American Children’s Literature and Journalism in the Golden Age
American Children’s Literature and Journalism in the Golden Age
By Paige Gray
Investigates how depictions of young people in late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century America use artifice to destabilize pre-existing narratives of truth, news, and fact.
Cub Reporters considers the intersections between children’s literature and journalism in the United States during the period between the Civil War and World War I. American children’s literature of this time, including works from such writers as L. Frank Baum, Horatio Alger Jr., and Richard Harding Davis, as well as unique journalistic examples including the children’s page of the Chicago Defender, subverts the idea of news. In these works, journalism is not a reporting of fact, but a reporting of artifice, or human-made apparatus—artistic, technological, psychological, cultural, or otherwise. Using a methodology that combines approaches from literary analysis, historicism, cultural studies, media studies, and childhood studies, Paige Gray shows how the cub reporters of children’s literature report the truth of artifice and relish it. They signal an embrace of artifice as a means to access individual agency, and in doing so, both child and adult readers are encouraged to deconstruct and create the world anew.