By a celebrated author: Nick Carter, Frederic Dey and authorial voice in dime novels

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Arbuthnott, Shane
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University of Guelph

Using Theodor Adorno's division between culture industry, characterized by standardization and a lack of autonomy, and mass culture, characterized by a more autonomous expressivity of the populace, this thesis explores issues of authorial autonomy and expression in the dime novel industry, focusing on the Nick Carter series. Contemporary discourse about and from the authors is compiled to show authorial engagement with the rhetoric around and from the dime novel industry. Themes of identity and autonomy are examined in the writings by and on Frederic Dey, showing how particular authorial concerns are inscribed into dime novel texts despite editorial attempts to create standardization. This thesis argues that the dime novel industry sits on the border between culture industry and mass culture, both constraining and enabling artistic expression by working-class individuals.

Dime novels, Nick Carter, Frederic Dey, Theodor Adorno, Themes of identity