The Prairie Agenda

Laura Ingalls Wilder as a proto-Reaganite? Surprisingly, the book (Little House, Long Shadow: Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Impact On American Culture) didn’t appear until now.

When Ronald Reagan became president in 1981, Fellman saw how deeply his individualist rhetoric resonated with average Americans and was reminded of her own emotional reaction to Wilder’s stories of prairie self-sufficiency. Fellman, now chair of the women’s-studies department at Old Dominion University, decided to investigate the politics of the popular series of children’s books.

Not only are rules and bureaucracies painted unflatteringly in the Little House series, but, as the Chronicle reports, the books also champion “self-reliance, isolationism and “buoyancy of spirit.” They contain, the volume alleges, anti-New Deal messages that may prove a “formative influence” on their “core political views.” Not to mention the formative influence of concerns about scarlet fever, fondness for one-room schoolhouses and a dog named Jack.

The only question left is: The Hardy Boys, skeptics prying beneath the rotten surface of middle-American society, or a fascist youth league enforcing Eisenhower conformity?

Anthony Paletta

Anthony Paletta is a freelance writer.

One thought on “The Prairie Agenda”

  1. Loved the books as a kid. Bought the books for my kids. But it’s widely known that Laura Ingalls Wilder and her daughter were financial angels for the Libertarian Party, and it’s no news that this libertarianism shows up in the books. Is Paletta really shocked – SHOCKED – to learn that there’s gambling going on here?

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