Advertisement

Reading, Resistance, and Political Agency

  • Elisabeth Rose GrunerEmail author
Chapter
Part of the Critical Approaches to Children's Literature book series (CRACL)

Abstract

This chapter continues the exploration of power and agency by focusing specifically on reading and citizenship. In a variety of disparate works—from historical fiction to dystopian literature, high fantasy to contemporary fantasy—literacy is central to political agency. These novels reflect contemporary anxieties about surveillance, totalitarianism, racial oppression, and other forms of civic disempowerment. The stakes of adolescent literacy are high, these novels suggest, because it is so critical to a particular kind of political engagement: both critically aware and empathic. While reading becomes part of a system of resistance to oppression, not all YA authors are equally sanguine about its potential: empathy, critical analysis, or political awareness may and often do fail, singly or together. Reading is the necessary but not sufficient precondition, these novels suggest, for an engaged citizenry.

Works Cited

  1. Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi. 2009. The Danger of a Single Story. TED Talk, July. https://www.ted.com/talks/chimamanda_adichie_the_danger_of_a_single_story.
  2. Anderson, M.T. 2002. Feed. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick.Google Scholar
  3. ———. 2008. Letter to Half Hills High Students, May 19. http://www.halfhollowhills.k12.ny.us/uploaded/User_Folders/english/MT_Anderson_Letter.pdf.
  4. Baker, Daniel. 2012. Why We Need Dragons: The Progressive Potential of Fantasy. Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts 23 (3): 437–459.Google Scholar
  5. Barrs, Myra. 2000. Gendered Literacy? Language Arts 77 (4) (En-genderings): 287–293.Google Scholar
  6. Bennett, Stephen Earl, Staci L. Rhine, and Richard S. Flickinger. 2000. Reading’s Impact on Democratic Citizenship in America. Political Behavior 22 (3): 167–195.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cashore, Kristen. 2012. Bitterblue. New York: Dial.Google Scholar
  8. Coats, Karen. 2006. Fly by Night (Review). Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books 60 (1): 17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Deszcz-Tryhubczak, Justyna. 2013. ‘Minister,’ Said the Girl, ‘We Need to Talk’: China Miéville’s Un Lun Dun as Radical Fantasy for Children and Young Adults. In Critical Insights on Contemporary Speculative Fiction, ed. Booker M. Keith, 137–151. Ipswich, Salem, MA: Salem Press.Google Scholar
  10. Doughty, Amie A. 2013. “Throw the Book Away”: Reading Versus Experience in Children’s Fantasy. Jefferson, NC: McFarland.Google Scholar
  11. Eagleton, Terry. 1983, 1996. Literary Theory: An Introduction. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  12. Eldred, Janet Carey, and Peter Mortensen. 1992. Reading Literacy Narratives. College English 54 (5): 512–539.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Fairclough, Norman. 1995. Critical Discourse Analysis: The Critical Study of Language. London: Longman.Google Scholar
  14. Fischer, Steven Roger. 2003. A History of Reading. London: Reaktion Books.Google Scholar
  15. Freire, Paulo, and Donaldo Macedo. 1987. Literacy: Reading the Word and the World. Westport, CT: Bergin & Garvey.Google Scholar
  16. Graff, Harvey J. 2001. Literacy’s Myths and Legacies: From Lessons from the History of Literacy, to the Question of Critical Literacy. In Difference, Silence, and Textual Practice: Studies in Critical Literacy, ed. Peter Freebody, Sandy Muspratt, and Bronwyn Dwyer, 1–29. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press.Google Scholar
  17. Gray, Richard. 2011. After the Fall: American Literature Since 9/11. Malden, MA and Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hale, Shannon. 2005. Princess Academy. New York: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
  19. Hardinge, Frances. 2005. Fly by Night. New York: Harper Trophy.Google Scholar
  20. Hateley, Erica. 2012. ‘In the Hands of the Receivers’: The Politics of Literacy in The Savage by David Almond and Dave McKean. Children’s Literature in Education 43: 170–180.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. International Reading Association. 2012. Adolescent Literacy. Position Statement, rev. 2012 ed. Newark, DE. https://www.literacyworldwide.org/docs/default-source/where-we-stand/adolescent-literacy-position-statement.pdf.
  22. Intzidis, Evangelos, and Eleni Karantzola. 2008. Literacies for Active Citizenships. Literacy and the Promotion of Citizenship: Discourses and Effective Practices. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Institute for Lifelong Learning.Google Scholar
  23. Isaac, Megan. 2016. Re-animating Democracy in the World of Fantasy. Unpublished Talk, Children’s Literature Association Annual Convention, Columbus, OH.Google Scholar
  24. Jacobs, Vicki A. 2008. Adolescent Literacy: Putting the Crisis in Context. Harvard Educational Review 78 (1): 7–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Jameson, Frederic. 1981. The Political Unconscious: Narrative as a Socially Symbolic Act. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Kidd, Kenneth. 2005. ‘A’ is for Auschwitz: Psychoanalysis, Trauma Theory, and the ‘Children’s Literature of Atrocity’. Children’s Literature 33: 120–149.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Klein, Naomi. 2007. The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. New York: Picador.Google Scholar
  28. Laymon, Kiese. 2013a. How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America. Chicago: Bolden (E-pub).Google Scholar
  29. ———. 2013b. Long Division. Chicago: Bolden Books.Google Scholar
  30. Manguel, Alberto. 1996. A History of Reading. New York: Viking.Google Scholar
  31. Miéville, China. 2007. Un Lun Dun. New York: Ballantine.Google Scholar
  32. Neem, Johann M. 2017. Democracy’s Schools: The Rise of Public Education in America. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Ness, Patrick. 2008. The Knife of Never Letting Go. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick.Google Scholar
  34. ———. 2010. Monsters of Men. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick.Google Scholar
  35. Paul, Lissa. 2000. The Naked Truth About Being Literate. Language Arts 77 (4) (En-genderings): 335–342.Google Scholar
  36. Pullman, Philip. 2004. The War on Words. The Guardian, November 5. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2004/nov/06/usa.politics.
  37. Resnick, Daniel P., and Lauren B. Resnick. 1989. Varieties of Literacy. In Social History and Issues in Human Consciousness: Some Interdisciplinary Connections, ed. Andrew E. Barnes and Peter N. Stearns, 171–196. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  38. Sanders, Joe Sutliff. 2009a. The Critical Reader in Children’s Metafiction. The Lion and the Unicorn 33 (3): 349–361.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. ———. 2009b. Reinventing Subjectivity: China Miéville’s Un Lun Dun and the Child Reader. Extrapolation 50 (2): 293–306.Google Scholar
  40. Scholastic Kids and Family Reading Report. 2010. Turning the Page in the Digital Age. http://mediaroom.scholastic.com/files/KFRR_2010.pdf.
  41. Schwebel, Sara L. 2014. Reading 9/11 from the American Revolution to US Annexation of the Moon: M.T. Anderson’s Feed and Octavian Nothing. Children’s Literature 42: 197–223.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Smith, Michael W., and Jeffrey D. Wilhelm. 2002. Reading Don’t Fix No Chevys: Literacy in the Lives of Young Men. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.Google Scholar
  43. Smith, Rachel Greenwald. 2011. Organic Shrapnel: Affect and Aesthetics in September 11 Fiction. American Literature 83 (1): 153–174.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Snaza, Nathan. 2013. Bewildering Education. Journal of Curriculum and Pedagogy 10 (1): 38–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Valentine, McKinley. 2012. Is the Fantasy Genre Fundamentally Conservative? Blog Post, October 11. https://mckinleyvalentine.com/2012/10/11/is-the-fantasy-genre-fundamentally-conservative/.
  46. Wolf, Maryanne. 2018. Reader, Come Home: The Reading Brain in a Digital World. New York: HarperCollins.Google Scholar
  47. Zusak, Markus. 2005. The Book Thief. New York: Knopf.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.RichmondUSA

Personalised recommendations