• Karen J. Renner


Growing up outside of society, ferals emblematize human nature at its purest. Freed from the cloying conformity of society, the feral can be an icon; the feral feminist of recent YA literature, for example, is liberated from sexist gender expectations. The feral child has a dark side, too, one that invokes images of youngsters who are unruly, pleasure-driven, and dangerous, which in texts like Lord of the Flies ​(1954) is used to deliver a most damning evaluation of human nature. However, the novel also suggests that the children were corrupted by society and its penchant for war long before they were stranded. Dystopian science fiction and horror stories like Who Can Kill a Child? (1976) and Stephen King’s “Children of the Corn” (1977) deploy a similar strategy. Child criminals are also often discussed using feral imagery, as in the recent hoodie horror subgenre.


Moral Panic Child Soldier Youth Gang Adult Society Complex Social Problem 
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© The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karen J. Renner
    • 1
  1. 1.Northern Arizona UniversityFlagstaffUSA

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