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Setting the Stage for Animal House: Student Drinking in College Novels, 1865–1933

From: The Journal of Higher Education
Volume 85, Number 3, May/June 2014
pp. 370-401 | 10.1353/jhe.2014.0016



Depictions of college students’ alcohol use changed substantially in novels published between 1865 and 1933, years in which higher education expanded and college students became the focus of popular culture. In novels published before 1920, student drinking oscillated widely, primarily mediated by gender, socioeconomic status, and institutional type. Paradoxically coinciding with onset of national Prohibition (1920–1933), novels published after 1920 portrayed increased drinking by college students from a variety of backgrounds. The contents of these novels laid a foundation for the excessive alcohol use of college students depicted in modern forms of popular culture, epitomized by the 1978 movie Animal House.

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