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Title: Redefining borders : exploring narrative stance, intertextuality, ideology and reader positioning in radical crossover fiction
Author: Oliver, Chantal
ISNI:       0000 0004 5350 4720
Awarding Body: University of Bedfordshire
Current Institution: University of Bedfordshire
Date of Award: 2014
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The huge popularity of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels and Philip Pullman’s challenging trilogy His Dark Materials flagged up a widening audience and increasing status for children’s literature in the West. As Sandra Beckett (2009) notes, children’s fiction is now being embraced with enthusiasm by adult readers, writers, critics and publishers. From this increased profile there has emerged the distinct publishing category of ‘crossover’ fiction. In contrast to earlier children’s novels with broad audience appeal, contemporary crossover works are noted for their contextually radical resistance to conventions and bold innovations in content, style and form. Whilst this has given rise to greater critical interest, however, the focus in general has been on adult authored fiction, rather than the now growing body of work being produced and promoted by children and adolescents themselves. In effect, adult critics and reviewers either exclude or take for granted young authors’ fictions as being formulaic and/or lightweight. The purpose of this study has been to investigate the implications of this stance. Drawing on Mikhail Bakhtin’s (1965) theory of carnival and its associated concepts, I have conducted a comparative analysis of published fiction by adult and teenage authors whose works have been identified as subversive and/or marketed as crossover texts. A Bakhtinian perspective on style, structure and themes in each confirms, or otherwise, their radical status before consideration is given to the implications of any differences in approach. Given John Stephens’ (1999) observation that boundaries between children’s and adults’ fiction are more fundamentally blurred in the fantasy and sub-fantasy modes, the influence of genre has been investigated too. My findings indicate that radical texts with broad audience appeal can, in fact, arise through a variety of narrative forms and writing styles and regardless of authorial age. At the same time, characteristic differences in ‘perspectives’ are shown to mark off adolescent from adult authors’ works. I conclude that the young writers’ near-perspectives can produce hybrid fictions which might be understood as breaking new ground. The fresh insights this study contributes, then, demonstrate that any comprehensive account of the vibrant and ever-shifting contemporary literary scene must encompass broader and altogether more considered critical review of young adults’ input than has been offered to-date.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: narrative stance ; crossover fiction ; fiction ; children's literature ; narrative ; Q323 English Literature by topic