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Writing and circulating modern America: Journalism and the American novelist, 1872--1938

Derek J Driedger, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


My research began with the question, "How did former journalists depict aspects of the newspaper environment in late-nineteenth, early-twentieth-century fiction?" A historical reading of journalism and fiction places the emphasis on what historical moments or trends these writers documented, and how they presented their worldview. To present findings on how a journalism career proved beneficial for a novelist, I examine arguments debating the shared space between fact and fiction when writers tried to raise their readers' cultural awareness. My study pays particular attention to newspapers such as the New York Herald, the New York World, and the Atchison [Kansas] Globe. I also find evidence in journals devoted to literature and the writing process such as Forum, Writer, and the New York Times Book Review. ^ My study constructs journalism-derived definitions of realism, naturalism, and modernism to chart America's literary developments. These developments regularly cross through urban sensationalism, country journalism, exposés, editorials, and hypertextual presentation. I organize these developments through fact-fiction dialogs where both journalists and novelists attempted to engage readers in their material. Ultimately, I conclude texts by the paired journalists-turned-novelists covered similar topics in both genres. However, in each case the second writer portrayed the shared topic with increased cynicism toward American society. ^ Each chapter explores the literary reputations, journalism, and newspaper related-literature of ten journalists-turned-novelists: Mark Twain, E. W. Howe, W. D. Howells, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Sherwood Anderson, Sinclair Lewis, Upton Sinclair, George Samuel Schuyler, Willa Cather, and John Dos Passos. My conclusion offers other avenues available for study in a journalism-literature discussion, such as travel writing by journalists-turned-novelists, or explorations of the journalist-turned-novelist trend in other countries. My research continues the journalism-literature discussion by such scholars as Shelley Fisher Fishkin, Michael Robertson, John C. Hartsock, Nicole Parisier, and David T. Humphries. ^

Subject Area

Journalism|Literature, American

Recommended Citation

Driedger, Derek J, "Writing and circulating modern America: Journalism and the American novelist, 1872--1938" (2007). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3252839.