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Downtown Campus Library hosting “American Dime Novels Racialization / Erasure” exhibit

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
August 23rd, 2021
Book cover
Images courtesy Northern Illinois University Libraries’ “Nickels and Dimes Collection.”

The Downtown Campus Library is hosting “American Dime Novels Racialization / Erasure” in Room 1020. The exhibit, curated by Nancy Caronia, a teaching associate professor in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences Department of English, includes a series of dime novel covers showing how stereotypes led to state and national policies regarding immigration.

“These covers reflect not only past US history, but also current practices regarding twenty-first century immigration policies and discourse in both political and popular culture,” Caronia said.

Caronia received the 2020-21 Faculty/Staff Exhibit Award from the WVU Libraries’ Arts in the Libraries committee for her proposal to visually showcase her scholarship.

While working on an interdisciplinary volume exploring how the American dime novel genre assisted in spreading discriminatory notions of Italian immigrants in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, Caronia found, “Dime novels reinforce racist and ethnic stereotypes not only of Italian immigrants, but also indigenous, black, and Chinese individuals and communities.”

Caronia’s work contributes to American and Italian Diaspora literary studies, as well as contemporary migration and gender studies. In 2017, Caronia received an NEH Summer Institute fellowship to the Bard Graduate Center’s “American Material Culture: Nineteenth-Century New York” in support of this project. With this award, Caronia will receive $1,000 in professional development funds.

As part of its mission, Art in the Libraries highlights art and scholarship of WVU faculty, students and staff. Since 2018, the Art in the Libraries committee juries and selects a current WVU faculty or staff to design an exhibit that provides a visual evolution of their work, visualizing their research and influences, or answering a research question.

This exhibit is also available through the WVU Libraries here. For more information on the Art in the Libraries Faculty/Staff Exhibits Award and former awardees, visit

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