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Books for Australian Boys: Manipulating Genre in Contemporary Young Adult Fiction

thesis
posted on 23.03.2017, 02:34 by Troy Potter
This thesis examines how genre is used and exploited to construct a range of masculinities in a representative selection of contemporary Australian Young Adult (YA) fiction. The production and labelling of “books for boys” in the field of children’s and YA literature has seen a resurgence in Australia in recent years, perhaps as a response to contemporary concerns about a “crisis” in masculinity and masculine self-perception. Inherent to the categorisation of these books is an essentialist understanding of gender and masculinity, particularly in relation to boys’ behaviour and interests.
   
   Genre, as well as gender, is vital to the production of books for boys. Surveys of Australian adolescent reading practices have indicated that boys show a preference for particular modes of fiction. “Genre” suggests a representative set of stylistic devices and formulaic narrative traits employed within a particular text. Yet genre is also a reciprocal dynamic, providing structure for the production and interpretation of meaning, both within a text and between the reader and his/her cultural context. Moreover, books for boys as marketed literary artefacts perpetuate the perception that masculinity is in a troubled state. Genre thus functions as a means to respond to and shape contemporary concerns about what it means to be male.
   
   Adopting this generic approach, I analyse how individual texts and genres value and promote particular masculine characteristics, and consider how fictive masculinities position implied male readers within gendered paradigms. I argue that books for boys, while presenting revised masculinities, nevertheless support and validate essentialist and hierarchical constructions of gendered identity.

History

Principal supervisor

Robin Gerster

Additional supervisor 1

Kevin Foster

Year of Award

2017

Department, School or Centre

Literary and Cultural Studies

Campus location

Australia

Faculty

Faculty of Arts

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