Doctoral candidate Mikki Smith successfully defended her dissertation, "Print Networks and Youth Information Culture: Young People, Amateur Publishing, and Children’s Periodicals, 1867-1890," on April 3.
Her committee included Associate Professor Kate McDowell, Professor Alistair Black, Associate Professor Emerita Christine Jenkins, and Karen Sanchez Eppler (professor of American studies and English, Amherst College).
From the abstract: Thousands of young people throughout the 1870s and 1880s actively developed networks through print to facilitate communication and the circulation of information among peers. These young people were not content to merely inhabit, as individual readers, the spaces created for them by professional publishers, editors, and authors in an expanding children’s market in the late nineteenth century; they sought, through print, to establish peer networks beyond the boundaries of these spaces, communicating with one another about their reading, the world, and their readings of themselves in the world. These young readers collaborated in the production and circulation of amateur newspapers, developing an elaborate system of exchange and establishing formal associations from the local to the national level. Many who were not active participants in newspaper production were active readers of those productions. A study of these print networks — acknowledging the ways in which access and participation were shaped to a large extent by race, class, nationality, religion, and gender, and to a lesser extent by geography — can provide insight into how these young people negotiated identity, socialized with peers, and shaped a youth information culture in the late nineteenth century.