'Belonging’ in Young Adult Dystopian Fiction: New Communities Created by Children


Kennon, Patricia (2005) 'Belonging’ in Young Adult Dystopian Fiction: New Communities Created by Children. Papers: Explorations into children’s literature, 15. pp. 40-49. ISSN 1837-9243

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Abstract

In this paper I will discuss the role that young adults play in the creation of new communities governed by young people in four dystopian novels set during the fragmentation of society in the near future. I will focus on novels narrated by or focalised through the perspective of young female protagonists, as these narratives offer intriguing explorations of young women's utopian capacity for leadership and for re-visioning traditional power relations and social structures. In their exploration of their own subjectivities, the young female protagonists must address the claims of individual self-actualisation while re-assessing the validity and appeal of traditional hierarchical systems of authority located in a radically changed and hostile world. Novels such as Meg Rosoff’s How I Live Now (2004), O.T. Nelson’s The Girl Who Owned a City (1995), Marcus Sedgwick’s Floodland (2000) and Gary Kilworth’s The Electric Kid (1994) explore how the impact of the abrupt absence of parental control and adult surveillance results in the young protagonists’ forced creation and development of new concepts of community, family and ‘belonging’. Inherited hierarchical systems of individual identity and the larger social and political world are challenged during the characters' struggles for survival in these novels as the young protagonists display considerable courage, creativity and ‘heroic’ attributes in their efforts to survive and also to protect other younger children in their care. As such, these dystopian stories offer opportunities to explore gender role stereotypes and their reformulation by young people during situations which require both the conventional ‘masculine’ qualities such as leadership, bravery and endurance and also ‘feminine’ attributes such as nurturing, collaborative teamwork and compassion.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Young Adult; Dystopian; Fiction; New Communities; Children;
Academic Unit: Faculty of Social Sciences > Froebel Department of Primary and Early Childhood Education
Item ID: 8625
Depositing User: Patricia Kennon
Date Deposited: 16 Aug 2017 16:32
Journal or Publication Title: Papers: Explorations into children’s literature
Publisher: ACLAR and the Centre for Cultural and Creative Research
Refereed: Yes
URI:

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