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Byron's back from the dead? : revenants of Romanticism in contemporary young adult fiction

Hateley, Erica (2011) Byron's back from the dead? : revenants of Romanticism in contemporary young adult fiction. In Romanticism and the Tyrannies of Distance, 10-12 February 2011, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

Often identified as the origin of today’s children’s literature, Romanticism offers a particular context for interrogating boundaries between child and adult. Since the turn of the nineteenth century, however, Western society has “invented” the teenager to figure and to police the boundary between childhood and adulthood. In due course, twenty-first-century young adult (YA) novels such as Susan Davis’s Mad, Bad and Totally Dangerous (2004) and Cara Lockwood’s Wuthering High: A Bard Academy Novel (2006) have combined the Romantic and the adolescent in narratives which turn on supernatural invocation of Romantic authors as “really” present in contemporary adolescent lives. These novels tell stories of adolescence in which the self comes to be known via embodied encounters with dead authors, in particular, with Byron. Where “Byron scholarship has worked hard to disassociate the poet from this kind of pop-Gothic depiction, seeing it as the inevitable but regrettable offspring of nineteenth-century Byromania” (McDayter 30), contemporary YA fiction suggests that it is precisely via pop-Gothic depictions that today’s adolescents may first come to know the Romantic in general and the Byronic in particular. This paper reads these novels in the context of current anxieties about cultural illiteracy and educational “failure” in order to consider what work is being undertaken in the name of Byron, and to shed light on the ways in which cultural education may be taking place far beyond the realms of schools or cemeteries for today’s young readers.

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ID Code: 40052
Item Type: Conference Paper
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LANGUAGES COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE (200000) > LITERARY STUDIES (200500) > British and Irish Literature (200503)
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: 15 Feb 2011 10:09
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2011 10:09

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