Victorian passion to modern phenomenon: a literary and rhetorical analysis of two hundred years of scrapbooks and scrapbook making

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2006

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Hunt, Leigh Ina

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Scrapbooks are cultural artifacts that contain expressions of the literary and rhetorical impulse to express oneself in words, pictures, and other artifacts. Scrapbooks are ubiquitous throughout the population and in all realms of society. They contain evidence of personal writing and engage in discourses on family and society. And yet, except for a few scholars, they have received little attention as subjects or resources for research. The lack of scholarly interest in scrapbooks is due to the negative connotation of "scraps" and a failure to recognize scrapbooks as sites for personal writing and reflections of our history and culture. This dissertation provides a thoughtful definition of scrapbooks and an extended history of their use from Victorian England to the World Wide Web. Although this dissertation limits itself to American and British scrapbooks, early scrapbook making also took place in Canada and Europe, with some of the earliest works appearing in Germany and France. Scrapbooks can also be found in other countries and regions around the world, including Australia, South Africa, Brazil, Puerto Rico, Japan, Scandinavia, and others. The Introduction argues that scrapbooks are valuable cultural artifacts of memory and history. Chapter One, "What's in a name?", provides a definition of scrapbooks that dispels their negative connotations, distinguishes them from other albums, and uncovers their inherent qualities as literary and rhetorical documents. Chapter Two, "The Victorian Passion," and Chapter Three, "The Modern Phenomenon," provide a history of scrapbooks that spans two-hundred years of scrapbook events, beginning with the Victorian passion for collecting scraps and continuing into the current scrapbook-making phenomenon. The history emphasizes the intersections between scrapbooks and the social, political, economic, and technological developments that influence scrapbooks and scrapbook making. Chapter Four, "Paper to Pixels," examines the newest generation of scrapbooks, e-scrapbooks, and pays particular attention to scrapbooks on the World Wide Web.

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