Dr. Joel Shrock, associate professor of history at Anderson University, is nearing completion of a new paper titled “Boys with Guns: Firearms, Violence, and Manhood in the Rover Boys Series.” When completed, the paper will be part of a larger book exploring violence in juvenile fiction.
The focus of Shrock’s paper is The Rover Boys, a 20-book series that began in 1899. The books were written for children ages 10 through 17. “The stuff I am looking at is considered to be the precursor to what most people know, which is The Hardy Boys,” said Shrock.
“What I was looking for is the way in which gender operated in the books, and I noticed a lot of gun use,” said Shrock. “No one ever talks about this. It is one thing to have a gun in a story, but it is something entirely different to have the gun specifically pointed at someone’s head.”
According to Shrock, guns are present in 17 of the 20 Rover Boys books, people are threatened with guns in 60 percent of the books, and a person is shot 30 percent of the time.
“So often we get caught up in the thought that the present is so much more violent than the past, but that is almost never true,” said Shrock. “If these books were aimed at ages 10 through 17 today, people would be outraged.”
Shrock said the university has been very supportive of his research. He received a Distinguished Scholar Release Time award from AU to assist him in his work. The special collections section in the AU library has also assisted Shrock by purchasing a magazine he uses, St. Nicholas Magazine.
Shrock is known for his attention to detail and focus on the relevance of history. “He humanizes the people of the past,” said junior history minor Kaitlin Burch. “Instead of viewing people from a different time period as a caricature, I now view them as real people, who had the same kind of ideas, feelings, and problems that I face in today's world.”
“Dr. Shrock is very enthusiastic and can make any subject easy to understand,” said junior theatre arts major Danielle Gilford. “He can easily spark people’s curiosity, and he has the support of not only the faculty but his students as well.”
Shrock began researching for “Boys with Guns” in 2007. Once it is published, he hopes to rework his research in a book form.
— Kelly Gualdoni is a junior from Fort Wayne, Ind., majoring in communication arts. Gualdoni is an associate with Fifth Street Communications™, writing on behalf of the Anderson University Office of University Communications.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2011, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the eighth consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing, and theology.