By Kerry Mallan (auth.)
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Additional resources for Gender Dilemmas in Children’s Fiction
In her discussion of YA romance, Trites sees ‘sexuality as a rite of passage [which] is linked with romance’ (2000, p. 84). Trites’s linking of sexuality and romance as a rite of passage is an accurate depiction of many YA romances. As I mentioned above, many YA novels follow the European model of (white male) Bildungsroman or a female version of it where the rite of passage often entails a quest for one’s ‘true’ self as well as for one’s ‘true’ love. It is probably an accurate assessment to suggest that most feminist Bildungsroman and gay and lesbian ‘coming out’ fiction tend to link gender and sexual identity with a similar finding of an essential self (and an equally essential other).
Dan, the sensitive guy, writes love poems, signs off his Instant Messages with ‘Amor omnia vincit! Love conquers all’ (p. 95), and cries into his double scotch on the rocks when he feels rejected by the love of his life, Serena. His desire for Serena is continually frustrated, but by the close of the novel these frustrations can be understood as necessary for ensuring that Dan ends up with his one true love – Vanessa. The strategies of displacement and denial that construct Dan’s character regulate what is an impossible desire – to win the heart of Serena van der Woodsten so that he can reach a state of ease by moving from the disease of lovesickness.
117). In a similar way, children’s and YA texts speak of prohibition and the discourses and structures which contribute to states of confusion, repression, and celebration. Just how these texts manage to ex-cite readers into thinking about literature and film as cultural sites of gender construction is the driving motivation behind this book. The following chapters explore ways in which a selection of contemporary children’s texts re-inscribe and resignify gendered bodies within and beyond the discursive limits imposed by their location within culture and through the narrative limits of their creation.