The Fictional Republic: Horatio Alger and American Political Discourse

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Oxford University Press, Apr 14, 1994 - Literary Criticism - 13 pages
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Investigating the persistence and place of the formulas of Horatio Alger in American politics, The Fictional Republic reassesses the Alger story in its Gilded Age context. Carol Nackenoff argues that Alger was a keen observer of the dislocations and economic pitfalls of the rapidly industrializing nation, and devised a set of symbols that addressed anxieties about power and identity. As classes were increasingly divided by wealth, life chances, residence space, and culture, Alger maintained that Americans could still belong to one estate. The story of the youth who faces threats to his virtue, power, independence, and identity stands as an allegory of the American Republic. Nackenoff examines how the Alger formula continued to shape political discourse in Reagan's America and beyond.
 

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Contents

On Interpretation and Method
3
2 A Unitarian Project for Moral Guidance
12
Character and the Battle for Youth
33
4 Guidebooks for Survival in an Industrializing Economy
53
5 Saved From the Factory
78
6 Technology Organizations Corporations and Capitalists
93
Authority Power and Politics
110
Algers Interventions in the Market
133
Searching for Algers Audience in the Literary Marketplace
181
Power Powerlessness and Gender
206
12 Culture Wars
227
Algers Appeal to the American Political Imagination
261
Notes
272
References
336
Name Index
354
Subject Index
357

9 Levelling and Its Limits
162

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