The politics of literacy in David Almond and Dave McKean’s "The Savage" (2008)

Hateley, Erica (2010) The politics of literacy in David Almond and Dave McKean’s "The Savage" (2008). In 9th Biennial International Conference of the Australasian Children’s Literature Association for Research (ACLAR), 23-25 June 2010, University of Wollongong, . (Unpublished)

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Competency in language and literacy are central to contemporary debates about education in Anglophone nations around the world. This paper suggests that such debates are informing not just educational policy but children’s literature itself as can be seen in Almond and McKean’s The Savage. This hybrid text combines prose and graphic narrative and narration in order to tell the story of Blue, a young British boy negotiating his identity in the aftermath of his father's death. While foregrounding a narrative of ideal masculinity, The Savage enacts and privileges a formal and thematic ideal of literacy as index of individual agency and development.

Almond and McKean produce a politicised understanding of language and literacy that simultaneously positions The Savage in a textual tradition of socio-culturally disenfranchised youth, and intervenes in that tradition to (perhaps ironically) affirm the very conditions previously critiqued by that very tradition. Where earlier authors such as Barry Hines sought to challenge normative accounts of language and literacy in order to indict educational policy and praxes, Almond and McKean work to naturalise the very logics of education and agency by which their protagonist has been disenfranchised. In doing so, The Savage exemplifies current approaches to education which claim to value social and cultural diversity while imposing national standardised testing predicated on assumptions about the legitimacy of uniform standards and definitions of literacy.

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ID Code: 33197
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: No
Additional URLs:
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > SPECIALIST STUDIES IN EDUCATION (130300) > Specialist Studies in Education not elsewhere classified (130399)
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
Deposited On: 20 Jul 2010 21:21
Last Modified: 20 Jul 2010 21:21

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