Scholars have hypothesized that historical fiction books are more a product of the author, author’s nuanced world view, and the time period in which they were written than of the events and period depicted. This content analysis research examined how American historical fiction authors represented the Civil War and how the events of September 11th, 2001 impacted this representation. The data pool included only books targeting intermediate elementary and middle level students and had four categories: Civil War-based books published prior to 1989, Civil War-based books published between 1990 and September 11th 2001, Civil War-based books published between 2002 and 2015, and a baseline of books targeting any war published at any time. Shifts in message, violence, perceptions of the enemy, and intended audience appeared. After September 11th, 2001, American historical fiction authors targeted younger audiences, wrote more pro-war messages, included less violence, and dehumanized or anonymized the enemy more frequently. Findings lend credence to previous scholarship that hypothesized historical fiction readers should consider the source and context of publication to better understand underlying messages.
Children's literature, young adult literature; history-based literature