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The World in an Object Lesson: Visual Pedagogies in Children's Literature Produced for the 1893 Columbian Exposition

  • Author / Creator
    Whitford, Adam N
  • The World in an Object Lesson addresses the ways in which nineteenth-century reading audiences of the United States were taught to make sense of the visual stimulus of worlds fairs. The Object Lesson was one visual method which was both promoted and critiqued in the material culture of the 1890's. The Object Lesson attempted to teach students how to create knowledge from closely viewing the physical world, believing that the creation of empirical knowledge could only come from the employment of the senses. Critiques of the Object Lesson reacted against its habit of stereotyping the people it examined, using emotion and imagination as methods of visual engagement. Viewing methods that used emotion and imagination taught reading audiences to look for the sake of pleasure rather than knowledge. Through methods of formal and historical analysis, I engage in a visual and material examination of Tudor Jenks' The Century World's Fair Book for Boys and Girls (1893) and Frances Hodgson Burnett's Two Little Pilgrims' Progress (1895). I study how their image and text combinations promoted or critiqued the Object Lesson and how it came to stereotype the people and cultures it examined. I argue that while the Object Lesson encouraged students to arrive at pre-ordained answers rather than create new knowledge, the best employment of the Object Lesson and the Conceiving Faculty lies in their combination.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    2018-06
  • Type of Item
    Thesis
  • Degree
    Master of Arts
  • DOI
    https://doi.org/10.7939/R3DJ58X69
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
    English
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
    Master's
  • Department
  • Specialization
    • History of Art, Design, and Visual Culture
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Dr. Andrea Korda, Augustana - Department of Fine Arts & Humanities
    • Dr. Joan Greer, Department of Art and Design