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WVU Libraries selects Caronia as 2020-21 Faculty/Staff Exhibit Awardee

nick carter comic book
Images courtesy Northern Illinois University Libraries’ “Nickels and Dimes Collection.”

WVU Libraries’ Arts in the Libraries committee presented the 2020-21 Faculty/Staff Exhibit Award to Nancy Caronia, a teaching assistant professor in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences Department of English, for her proposal to visually showcase her scholarship, “Dime Novels: Racialization and Erasure,” in a new and experimental way.

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.”

This exhibition, to tentatively open in the fall of 2020 at the Downtown Campus Library, will include a series of dime novel covers, showing how stereotypes of these communities followed and / or promoted state and national policies regarding immigration policies including the Chinese Exclusion Act, Indian removal acts, and early Jim Crow practices focused on voter suppression.

“These covers reflect not only past US history, but also current practices regarding twenty-first immigration policies and discourse in both political and popular culture, a timely discourse with which to engage during the current national election cycle,” Caronia said.

Caronia will complement images with context about the visual depictions and implications. Programming will be planned in the forthcoming months further examining the topics in the exhibition.

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.

For more information on the Art in the Libraries Faculty/Staff Exhibits Award and former awardees, visit