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Gender

Hateley, Erica (2011) Gender. In Nel, Philip & Paul, Lissa (Eds.) Keywords in Children's Literature. New York University Press, New York, pp. 86-92.

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Abstract

The OED informs us that “gender” has at its root the Latin genus, meaning “race, kind,” and emerges as early as the fifth century as a term for differentiating between types of (especially) people and words. In the following 1500 years, gender appears in linguistic and biological contexts to distinguish types of words and bodies from one another, as when words in Indo-European languages were identified as masculine, feminine, or neuter, and humans were identified as male or female. It is telling that gender has historically (whether overtly or covertly) been a tool of negotiation between our understandings of bodies, and meanings derived from and attributed to them. Within the field of children’s literature studies, as in other disciplines, gender in and of itself is rarely the object of critique. Rather, specific constructions of gender structure understandings of subjectivity; allow or disallow certain behaviors or experiences on the basis of biological sex; and dictate a specific vision of social relations and organization. Critical approaches to gender in children’s literature have included linguistic analysis (Turner-Bowker; Sunderland); analysis of visual representations (Bradford; Moebius); cultural images of females (Grauerholz and Pescosolido); consideration of gender and genre (Christian-Smith; Stephens); ideological (Nodelman and Reimer); psychoanalytic (Coats); discourse analysis (Stephens); and masculinity studies (Nodelman) among others. In the adjacent fields of education and literacy studies, gender has been a sustained point of investigation, often deriving from perceived gendering of pedagogical practices (Lehr) or of reading preferences and competencies, and in recent years, perceptions of boys as “reluctant readers” (Moss). The ideology of patriarchy has primarily come under critical scrutiny 2 because it has been used to locate characters and readers within the specific binary logic of gender relations that historically subordinated the feminine to the masculine. Just as feminism might be broadly defined as resistance to existing power structures, a gendered reading might be broadly defined as a “resistant reading” in that it most often reveals or contests that which a text assumes to be the norm.

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ID Code: 32509
Item Type: Book Chapter
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Children's Literature, Gender
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LANGUAGES COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE (200000) > CULTURAL STUDIES (200200) > Culture Gender Sexuality (200205)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LANGUAGES COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE (200000) > LITERARY STUDIES (200500) > Literary Studies not elsewhere classified (200599)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Past > Schools > School of Cultural & Language Studies in Education
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2010 New York University Press
Deposited On: 07 Jun 2010 08:36
Last Modified: 30 Jun 2011 10:00

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