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Adopting America: Childhood, Kinship, and National Identity in Literature$
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Carol J. Singley

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199779390

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199779390.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 28 February 2021

Child Saving, Nation Building: The Wide, Wide World and The Lamplighter

Child Saving, Nation Building: The Wide, Wide World and The Lamplighter

Chapter:
(p.99) 5 Child Saving, Nation Building: The Wide, Wide World and The Lamplighter
Source:
Adopting America: Childhood, Kinship, and National Identity in Literature
Author(s):

Carol J. Singley (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199779390.003.0005

Girls figure prominently in mid-nineteenth-century adoption fiction, as evidenced by Susan Warner’s The Wide, Wide World (1851) and Susanna Maria Cummins’s The Lamplighter (1854). These novels, set when statutes governing adoption were still vague and reflecting the importance of nurture as articulated by Horace Bushnell, acknowledge American opportunities while acknowledging European roots. Warner’s protagonist, Ellen, pays homage to the Old World on a visit to blood relatives, the Lindsays, but ultimately affirms her commitment to the New World. Gerty, in contrast, exercises her independence in The Lamplighter but reunites with her birth father in an expression of solidarity with Old World genealogy. Both novels contribute to a sense of identity as inherited and adoptive and to a construction of nation in dialogue with but independent of England.

Keywords:   Susan Warner, The Wide, Wide World, Ellen Montgomery, Susanna Maria Cummins, The Lamplighter, Gerty Flint, Horace Bushnell, Christian nurture, Old World, New World, domesticity, Romantic individualism, independence, Republic

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