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Title page for ETD etd-08292008-102918

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Graydon, Benjamin Thomas
URN etd-08292008-102918
Title Marketing Fictions: Product Branding in American Literature and Culture, 1890-1915
Degree PhD
Department English
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Cecelia Tichi Committee Chair
Deak Nabers Committee Member
Jay Clayton Committee Member
Rowena Olegario Committee Member
  • prose fiction
  • modernism
  • naturalism
  • realism
  • product branding
  • business history
  • American literature
Date of Defense 2008-08-21
Availability unrestricted
This dissertation is a study of the relationship between product branding and American literature and culture around the turn of the twentieth century. By the late nineteenth century, branding had emerged in the United States not only as a common business practice, but also as a shaping cultural influence. Essentially narratives about the relationships between product, manufacturer, and consumer, brands had a strong impact on both literature and the profession of authorship. I trace this impact in the development of three major narrative forms (realism, naturalism, and modernism) evident in the period. In the writing of William Dean Howells, Mark Twain, Stephen Crane, Edith Wharton, Edna Ferber, and others, as well as in early American cinema, I find a record of changing attitudes toward and responses to branding. Realism, naturalism, and modernism, I argue, were formally constituted to a significant degree both as professional reactions to branding’s impact on the literary marketplace and as broader efforts to think through the cultural implications of this business practice’s growth and development.
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