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children's literature, childhood and culture (and anything else that strikes my fancy).

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Location: pittsburgh, U.S. Outlying Islands

carbon-based life form: thinking, reading and gardening. New College alum; current grad student writing a dissertation. I specialize in children's literature, media, and culture, and queer/gender studies, with a strong interest in 19th century British literature and culture. I like history, a lot.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

shifting my focus (?)

i've been studying children's literature academically and officially for kind of awhile now - since fall of 1998, to be precise. for most of that time, my focus has largely been on fiction for children up to roughly age 12 or 13. my "major work" thus far (the work surrounding my master's thesis) has been on JM Barrie: Peter Pan and a novel for adults called The Little White Bird. So-called "golden age" children's fiction has appealed most strongly to me.

But now i'm finding myself increasingly interested in the problems of young adult (YA) literature. I've been reading up a storm of YA novels, surprisingly; i used to really dislike the teen problem novel. i still dislike many of the more formulaic ones, but my curiosity is quite piqued by YA novels and YA culture, and issues surrounding the two.

I wonder if this is part of a larger shift in my academic interest? will i end up writing my dissertation on YA texts, not the semi-obscure late victorian fantasies i had imagined i'd work on? although i still have a burning desire to do something with Christina Rosetti's utterly alarming and wonderfully brilliant trio of short prose, Speaking Likenesses - and someday hopefully i'll be able to motivate myself to do so.

but YA novels - problems of audience, of address, of social pressures on and in the texts. representations of adolescence, adolescence as a social and biological and psychological phenomenon - this all appeals to me quite vastly at the moment, and has since last summer's chance catch of an NPR show on adolescence (featuring jeffrey eugenides and jonathan lethem).

my "problem," or the roadblock i construct for myself as a procrastination device and/or something else, is that i know virtually nothing about adolescent lit. i haven't done any particular reading or studying on the subject; i couldn't tell you who works especially on YA novels. i'm sure someone does - several someones, many someones - but who they are - ? i don't know.

perhaps once the Children's Lit Association conference has passed (next week! i am a bundle of nerves and excitement - my first conference, my first conference paper) i'll be able to dive into the library and start doing some serious reading on the subject.

or perhaps i'll dive into a different library and simply do massive amounts of reading of YA novels themselves.

it's a win-win situation, either way.


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