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The Gothic in Children's Literature: The Creation of the Adolescent in Crossover Fiction

Burnes, Duncan (2016) The Gothic in Children's Literature: The Creation of the Adolescent in Crossover Fiction. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Abstract

This thesis traces the literary course of gothic narrative elements as they appear within children’s fiction, beginning from the late eighteenth century and concluding at the close of the nineteenth century. The thesis presents evidence and potentialities for children’s appropriation of gothic fiction written for adults, and links them to the contemporaneous development of gothic devices in fiction written for children. These are argued to reflect a single phenomenon: The burgeoning relevance, literary and social, of the adolescent, in whom gothic and children’s fictions find a natural point of crossover. This thesis contextualises critical negativity towards the gothic and particularly to potential adolescent audiences, highlighting how contentious and therefore radical their relationship was. Nonetheless, the thesis introduces two hitherto obscure examples of early gothic children’s fiction from the end of the eighteenth century which provide initial evidence of this trend, alongside readings of parodic representations of adolescent gothic consumption. This is developed in an analysis of twelve early nineteenth-century gothic bluebooks, examples of short, cheap gothic fiction, for their relevance and, more significantly, accessibility to potential adolescent readers. This point suggests mechanisms by which the very means used to acquire fiction can foster the development of the adolescent social unit. The adolescent, or maturing child, is then considered as a specifically literary figure, with the character-type’s role, both in major canonical works of fiction and more esoteric texts aimed at narrower and often younger audiences, scrutinised for continuing gothic resonance particular to their immature age and experience. The conclusion of this reading of literary and social history for evidence of the joint occurrence and significance of gothic and adolescence produces a theory regarding gothic fiction’s significance to the understanding and acceptance of the adolescent in society, and the success of the seemingly unlikely partnership of the gothic in children’s fiction.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Arts and Humanities (Sheffield) > School of English (Sheffield)
The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Arts and Humanities (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.682309
Depositing User: Duncan Burnes
Date Deposited: 04 Apr 2016 09:37
Last Modified: 03 Oct 2016 13:10
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/12031

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