Constructions of Childhood Found in Award-winning Children's Literature

Persistent Link:
http://hdl.handle.net/10150/195174
Title:
Constructions of Childhood Found in Award-winning Children's Literature
Author:
Wilson, Melissa Beth
Issue Date:
2009
Publisher:
The University of Arizona.
Rights:
Copyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Abstract:
This study explores the connections between childhood and children's literature. In this connection there is an inherent tension between writing and reading "real" childhood, as it is being lived by children now, and interacting with an adult-normative, adult-reconstructed childhood that may or may not have existed in the past. The purpose of this study was to address this tension by analyzing fifteen recently published award-winning children's novels, from the United States, The United Kingdom, and Australia, in order to ferret out how present-day childhood is constructed within this text set. Using a hybrid methodology called critical discourse analysis, buttressed by the frameworks of postmodern childhood studies and critical children's literature studies, the novels were analyzed in a hermeneutic, reader-response oriented approach in order to excavate themes that addressed childhood in the narratives. Findings are presented as a meta-plot, wherein the child protagonists leave a failed home, set out on a journey of knowledge and experience gaining a sense of agency, and, at the end of the novel, construct a new home replete with the child protagonists' personal meaning. This meta-plot includes instances of the child protagonist performing parrhesiatic acts (Foucault) as well as developing non-hierarchical relationships as conceptualized by an I/You relationship (Buber). Other findings include the construction of childhood as a time of "becoming" and a time of "is-ness," childhood as a time of resilience, and childhood as a time of difficult decisions. Conclusions of the analysis speak to the idea of the child serving as a Modern bringer of hope, who manages to create moral order from within an adult-created postmodern milieu. Implications relate to the fields of literacy education, replications of the study with an interpretative community of children, and continuing to define the burgeoning methodology of critical content analysis.
Type:
text; Electronic Dissertation
Keywords:
Buber; Critical Children's Literature Studies; Meta-Plot; Parrhesia; Postmodern Child; Postmodern Childhood Studies
Degree Name:
Ph.D.
Degree Level:
doctoral
Degree Program:
Language, Reading & Culture; Graduate College
Degree Grantor:
University of Arizona
Advisor:
Short, Kathy G.
Committee Chair:
Short, Kathy G.

Full metadata record

DC FieldValue Language
dc.language.isoENen_US
dc.titleConstructions of Childhood Found in Award-winning Children's Literatureen_US
dc.creatorWilson, Melissa Bethen_US
dc.contributor.authorWilson, Melissa Bethen_US
dc.date.issued2009en_US
dc.publisherThe University of Arizona.en_US
dc.rightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.en_US
dc.description.abstractThis study explores the connections between childhood and children's literature. In this connection there is an inherent tension between writing and reading "real" childhood, as it is being lived by children now, and interacting with an adult-normative, adult-reconstructed childhood that may or may not have existed in the past. The purpose of this study was to address this tension by analyzing fifteen recently published award-winning children's novels, from the United States, The United Kingdom, and Australia, in order to ferret out how present-day childhood is constructed within this text set. Using a hybrid methodology called critical discourse analysis, buttressed by the frameworks of postmodern childhood studies and critical children's literature studies, the novels were analyzed in a hermeneutic, reader-response oriented approach in order to excavate themes that addressed childhood in the narratives. Findings are presented as a meta-plot, wherein the child protagonists leave a failed home, set out on a journey of knowledge and experience gaining a sense of agency, and, at the end of the novel, construct a new home replete with the child protagonists' personal meaning. This meta-plot includes instances of the child protagonist performing parrhesiatic acts (Foucault) as well as developing non-hierarchical relationships as conceptualized by an I/You relationship (Buber). Other findings include the construction of childhood as a time of "becoming" and a time of "is-ness," childhood as a time of resilience, and childhood as a time of difficult decisions. Conclusions of the analysis speak to the idea of the child serving as a Modern bringer of hope, who manages to create moral order from within an adult-created postmodern milieu. Implications relate to the fields of literacy education, replications of the study with an interpretative community of children, and continuing to define the burgeoning methodology of critical content analysis.en_US
dc.typetexten_US
dc.typeElectronic Dissertationen_US
dc.subjectBuberen_US
dc.subjectCritical Children's Literature Studiesen_US
dc.subjectMeta-Ploten_US
dc.subjectParrhesiaen_US
dc.subjectPostmodern Childen_US
dc.subjectPostmodern Childhood Studiesen_US
thesis.degree.namePh.D.en_US
thesis.degree.leveldoctoralen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineLanguage, Reading & Cultureen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineGraduate Collegeen_US
thesis.degree.grantorUniversity of Arizonaen_US
dc.contributor.advisorShort, Kathy G.en_US
dc.contributor.chairShort, Kathy G.en_US
dc.contributor.committeememberYaden, Jr., Daviden_US
dc.contributor.committeememberWyman, Leisyen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberIddings, Chrisen_US
dc.identifier.proquest10648en_US
dc.identifier.oclc659753387en_US
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