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Buffeted by Political Winds

Children’s Literature in Communist Romania

Adrian Solomon

This article provides insight into the practically uncharted territory of children’s literature published during the Communist regime in Romania, with a special emphasis on boys’ roles and masculinity in the context of major themes and obsessions. Its purpose is to reveal both the nonideological side of this literature and the extent to which it might have exerted a decisive influence on education. The conclusion is that the power of nonideological seduction was greater than that of indoctrination.

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Sami Schalk

American Girl is a multi-product brand that is marketed transnationally through discourses of gendered empowerment and education. While previous scholarship has commented on how American Girl encourages normative gender roles, consumerism, and limited notions of diversity, no scholars, to my knowledge, have discussed disability in relation to the brand. This article explores the representation of disability in the American Girl contemporary line through an analysis of books and doll accessories. Unlike issues of gender, race and class, which appear central to American Girl’s depiction of contemporary girlhood, disability is a literal and metaphoric accessory in the brand. I contend that this representation of disability as supplementary is a prime example of ablenationalism explicitly targeted at girls.

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Reframing Disability through Graphic Novels for Girls

Alternative Bodies in Cece Bell’s El Deafo

Wendy Smith-D’Arezzo and Janine Holc

In this analysis of Cece Bell’s El Deafo, a graphic novel for children, we examine the tension between representations of able-bodiedness and disability in Bell’s narrative of a young girl negotiating family and friendships while experiencing hearing loss. Drawing on recent scholarship in disability studies and feminism, we demonstrate that ability is a characteristic that is not static; it circulates among a number of characters and bodies in the novel. Characters who match normatively abled bodies are at times unable to achieve their goals, while Cece, the protagonist, deploys a range of strategies to negotiate her social world, at times to great effect. El Deafo, in this way, neither idealizes disability nor represents it as something to be overcome. Instead, the novel opens up a space for alternative notions of embodiment.

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Sarah E. Whitney

In this article, I consider middle-grade tween literature through a Black Girl Magic framework that creates space and visibility for girls of color in postfeminist America. I read two works of fiction by middle-grade author Sherri Winston through such a lens. By locating girls’ tweenhood as a space of developmental continuity, and by claiming an aesthetic of sparkle, Black Girl Magic readings can re-situate dominant interpretations of the tween literary hero and provide exciting new methods for reading middle-grade fiction.

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Girl, Interrupted and Continued

Rethinking the Influence of Elena Fortún's Celia

Ana Puchau de Lecea

In this article I consider the characterization of Celia, the protagonist in Elena Fortún’s “Celia and Her World” series (1929–1952), and the role of Fortún as a forerunner of women writers in the 1950s. I explore the ways in which Fortún presented herself as a female author offering alternative models of femininity to her readers through the character Celia and the social context of the series. In addition, I examine Fortún’s shifting representation of Celia as a subversive character, and Fortún’s ideological influence on female writers who used similar literary strategies. Using the point of view of the girl in her texts as an insurgent protagonist to reflect different sociohistorical moments in Spain suggests a continuity in Spanish narrative instead of an abrupt change after the Civil War.

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Heroes of Our Time

The Historical-Political Context of Devorah Omer’s Novels

Rima Shikhmanter

This article examines Devorah Omer’s first two historical children’s novels, Ben-Yehuda’s Eldest Son and Sarah, Heroine of NILI (both published in 1967), as a case study for the ideological role played by historical fiction for children and youth in 1960s Israel. A comparison of the novels with the historical sources on which Omer relied reveals how the selection of the figures of Sarah Aaronsohn and Itamar Ben-Avi allowed her to create a narrative that crossed the political divide while presenting the difficulties experienced by children and women in their encounters with the national myth. Omer’s novels thus play a dual role: they preserve the Zionist narrative and shape a collective memory consistent with the establishment of a sovereign Jewish state, while also raising issues that call into question the national narrative’s hegemonic status.

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"Like Alice, I Was Brave"

The Girl in the Text in Olemaun’s Residential School Narratives

Roxanne Harde

In the genre of residential school narratives for children, Not My Girl (2014) stands out for the determination, courage, and resilience of its narrator, a young girl who chooses to go to a Catholic boarding school, and then draws on both her culture and a British novel, Alice in Wonderland, about a brave girl for strength and resilience. This article traces Olemaun’s journey as she follows Alice into literacy but finds her own methods of resisting colonial oppression and asserting Indigenous agency.

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Jonathan Magonet

This issue is largely given over to the proceedings of a conference on ‘Jewishness, Literature and the Child’ organized by the Institute of Jewish Studies at the University of Antwerp (12–14 December 2007). Edited and introduced by Katrien Vloeberghs, the papers explore the various ways in which issues surrounding the Holocaust find direct and indirect expression in Jewish children’s literature.

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Christopher Pittard

Andrew, Lucy. 2017. The Boy Detective in Early British Children’s Literature: Patrolling the Borders Between Boyhood and Manhood. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan. ix + 243 pp. $109.99. ISBN 978-3-319-62089-3 (hardback); ISBN 978-3-319-62090-9 (e-book)

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Andrea Mei-Ying Wu and Jay Mechling

Boys in children’s literature and popular culture: Masculinity, abjection, and the fictional child by Annette Wannamaker. New York: Routledge Falmer, 2007, 200 pp.

We Boys Together: Teenagers in Love before Girl-Craziness by Jeffrey P. Dennis. Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University Press, 2007, x + 283 pp.