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Title: Boys with sticks : a study of ephebiphobia in contemporary literature
Author: O'Kane, Charlene Frances
Awarding Body: University of Ulster
Current Institution: Ulster University
Date of Award: 2012
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The aim of this study is to explore the representations of adolescence and the fear of youth (ephebiphobia) in contemporary fiction. As adolescence is a period of maturation closely connected to childhood, this thesis begins with a discussion of the evolution of the historical concepts of childhood and adolescence and the ways in which these have been conceived as distinct phases of life. The following chapter is closely linked to this section as it examines the Biblical Fall as a metaphor for the movement from childhood to adolescence, which is frequently portrayed as a loss of innocence. Chapters Four and Five explore the literary representations of female sexuality and male adolescent violence respectively. In these sections, it is discussed how some overtly negative depictions of adolescence in literature are symptomatic of ephebiphobia, while other authors employ this popular anxiety as a way to discuss quite different social concerns. While this thesis is largely concerned with representations of adolescence in fiction for adults, Chapter Six offers an alternative perspective by examining Young Adult Literature - that is, fiction aimed at a teenage readership. While one might assume that the adolescent experience will be portrayed more sympathetically here, the reading of these novels discloses a didactic agenda that tends to subtly reinforce the negative stereotypes described in the preceding chapters. Ultimately, these findings indicate that adolescence is frequently portrayed as a negative state of being because it is the movement away from childhood (an idealised phase of life that is associated with innocence). This negativity can be discerned in the sensationalised depictions of youth in contemporary literature, wherein adolescents are seen to use their sexuality or aggression in ways that bring about the destruction of established social orders such as the family unit. Thus the way that adolescents are depicted in modem novels tells us as much about adult fears as it does about teenage realities.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available