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Title: From The bad beginning to an elusive End : knowledge and power in Lemony Snicket's A series of unfortunate events
Author: Barton, Julie Anastasia
ISNI:       0000 0004 2741 2742
Awarding Body: University of East Anglia
Current Institution: University of East Anglia
Date of Award: 2012
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My thesis analyzes A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket (pseudonym of Daniel Handler), a popular children's book series published between 1999 and 2006. I argue that this series challenges and ultimately subverts the traditional hierarchical power relations evident in the dynamic between the adult author and the child reader. As Maria Nikolajeva argues, "nowhere else are power structures as visible as in children's literature, the refined instrument used for centuries to educate, socialize and oppress a particular social group" (2010, 9). The power play between adults and children, between authors and readers, can be seen as an essential defining characteristic of children's literature, and my thesis asserts that this power play is often enacted in terms of knowledge. I argue that this bestselling thirteen-book series provides a distinctive approach to the role of offering knowledge to a child reader, as Daniel Handler ultimately transcends the typical power hierarchy where an adult must' give' or 'grant' knowledge (of any kind) to a child reader. Instead, he uses what I have termed "metateaching" to teach the child reader how to teach herself, thereby dispensing with the need for an adult authority figure. I begin by examining Handler's use of traditional narratological tropes before moving on to the numerous ways in which he subverts them. Handler utilizes a complex form when writing A Series of Unfortunate Events, invoking strategies allied to postmodernism, such as metafictionality and intertextuality, and he complicates the conventional children's literature reader/author relationship by introducing a didactic yet ultimately unreliable narrator in Lemony Snicket.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available