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Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Doctorow has a curiously complex problem in Ragtime. He wants to say something meaningful, to arrive at some truth about the ragtime era of America; he wants to reveal the essence of the people of that eram who and what affected them, whom and what they affected. But the facts alone cannot solve Doctorow's program. They will provide only locatable, accountable, recorded deeds. Art, by itself, cannot solve the problem either, since the problem is too bound up in history. The problem of Ragtime, then, is to conjoin somehow the accountable facts and the unrecorded effects those facts might have had. Ragtime needs to show how the historical figures of the early twentieth century and their philosophies affected unnamed families and caused much social unrest and change.
Doctorow's solutions is what might be called ragtime journalism. The new journalism attempted to create realistic novels that convinced us of their factual veracity by using real people and scenes to present an authentic recreation of reality. But Doctorow uses real people and scenes to create an unauthentic reality, to create a very obvious fiction.3.
Graham, Robert Haise. (1978). Doctorow's Ragtime journalism. University of the Pacific, Dissertation. https://scholarlycommons.pacific.edu/uop_etds/1966