Date of Award

August 2020

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

History

First Advisor

Christine Evans

Committee Members

Max Yela, Joe Austin

Keywords

Library Instruction, Mass Media, Nursing History, Popular Fiction, Primary Source Literacy Instruction, Romance Novels

Abstract

This thesis seeks to promote future collection and preservation of popular culture resources at academic libraries by demonstrating the research potential and instructional value of a particular collection—the Nurse Romance Novel collection, held by the UWM Special Collections department. The study examines the history of American nursing and the history of romance fiction, raising questions about the role mass media and popular culture played in the professionalization of nursing and in the construction of dominant ideologies about gender roles in twentieth century America. This study treats romance novels as both consumer goods and as narratives, analyzing not only their literary content but also contextualizing their production, consumption, and aesthetic conventions within the historical time period of the 1940s to 1970s. Romance fiction about nurses offers one lens through which scholars can investigate how mass media participated in society's debates about women, work, care giving, domesticity, and marriage.

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