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Reading otherness in British fiction for young people, 2001-2012.

Screech, Ben

Authors

Ben Screech



Abstract

This thesis argues that novels depicting characters who exist outside of the social order have become integral to a twenty-first century corpus of British fiction for children and adolescents. This, in part, is as a result of a changing socio-political landscape in Britain post-2000 in which discussions of who does and does not ‘belong’ are becoming increasingly amplified. It will be shown that, against such a backdrop, fiction for young people written between 2001 and 2012 works to counter and challenge mainstream discourses prevalent in, for example; the media. With this in mind, this study’s primary texts are categorised as social-realism, often providing a commentary on the nature of this historical moment. Different strands of Otherness in relation to young people are examined in each chapter of this thesis. Chapter one explores Otherness with reference to language, its function in wider society, and its ability to act as a signifier of normativity. It introduces a trio of novels focusing on young people with communication impairments. Chapter two examines how authors depict communities as complicit in Othering practices affecting young people. Chapter three introduces texts in which the protagonists’ Otherness stems from their exclusion from important sites of identity formation, such as family, school and nation. Chapter four examines representations of the ‘foreign Other’; and considers the impact of ‘outsider perspectives’ on narrative. The fifth chapter revisits one text from each of the preceding chapters, and documents their exploration in a school setting. This is included because I believe consultation with the texts’ intended audience is necessary in a study focusing on literature for young people. This is due to their status as a demographic that I, as adult researcher, exist outside of. This study’s originality then, stems not only from the contemporary nature of its primary texts, but also from its amalgamation of literary analysis with qualitative research - a rare approach in English studies.

Citation

Screech, B. Reading otherness in British fiction for young people, 2001-2012. (Thesis). University of the West of England

Thesis Type Thesis

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