“Without Manifest, None of the Book Would have Happened”: Place, Identity, and the Positioning of Canadian Adolescent Readers as Literary Critics

Abstract

This article explores the interconnections between young adult fiction and young adult readers’ constructions of place within two contemporary texts. It employs a qualitative, multiple case study design, and utilizes discussion groups, semi-structured interviews, and the creation of place-journals to interpret some of the ways in which several young adult readers, from two contrasting Canadian communities (rural/urban), respond to how place and place-identity are construed within two young adult fiction texts: Tim Wynne-Jones’ Blink and Caution and Clare Vanderpool’s Moon Over Manifest. Drawing on geography theory and ecocriticism, it argues that the participants’ interpretations of place align with the theories of place put forth by cultural geographer Doreen Massey and ecocritic Lawrence Buell. In doing so, it illustrates how the participants reflected on place, inside and outside of the chosen texts, as geographers and ecocritics would have done. The methodological approach moves beyond strictly textual analysis to privilege the voices of adolescent Canadian readers, positioning them as critical interpreters of place.

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Correspondence to Erin Spring.

Additional information

Erin Spring is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Institute for Child and Youth Studies at the University of Lethbridge, Alberta. Alongside her research, she teaches children’s and adolescent fiction in the English department. She completed her PhD in Children’s Literature in the Faculty of Education at the University of Cambridge. Her thesis won the UKLA Student Research Prize for its contribution to Literacy research. Erin was the 2015 recipient of the Frances E Russell Grant, through IBBY Canada, for her work with Indigenous adolescent readers living on a reserve in southern Alberta. Previous publications can be found in the journals Bookbird, Jeunesse: Young People, Texts, Cultures, and Children’s Geographies, as well as in various edited collections.

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Spring, E. “Without Manifest, None of the Book Would have Happened”: Place, Identity, and the Positioning of Canadian Adolescent Readers as Literary Critics. Child Lit Educ 49, 101–118 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10583-017-9313-y

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Keywords

  • Young adult literature
  • Ecocriticism
  • Canadian literature
  • Cultural geography
  • Reader response