Prentiss Ingraham and the dime novel

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Gernhardt, Phyllis J.
White, Ray (Raymond E.)
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Thesis (M.A.)
Department of History
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This study examines the ideas and values of late nineteenth century American society through the popular art form of dime novel literature. The works of Prentiss Ingraham, one of the most prolific dime novel authors, with over 600 novels to his credit, and one of the most popular, with-at least one reprint of each title, served as the focus of this study. A reading and analysis of 75 of his novels provided insight into the social ideas of his time.The results of this study show nineteenth century America's perceptions of the ideal society and the romanticization of nineteenth century American beliefs. This ideal society was based on a democratic foundation and thrived on a balance between the ruggedness of the frontier and the refinement of Eastern civilization. Likewise, the ideal American hero possessed the same blending of these characteristics.