Nomadic intertextuality and postmillennial children's gothic fiction

Buckley, Chloe Alexandra Germaine (2016) Nomadic intertextuality and postmillennial children's gothic fiction. PhD thesis, UNSPECIFIED.

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Since the turn of the twenty first century, Gothic has emerged as one of the most popular forms in which to write for children. Although children’s literature critics and educational professionals were once dubious about the value of scary stories for children, postmillennial Gothic has begun to receive critical praise as well as mass market popularity. This thesis explores an emergent critical discourse that champions children’s Gothic alongside a variety of examples of the form. I argue that postmillennial children’s fiction employs metafictional reflexivity and explicit intertextuality, opening out into an expansive Gothic landscape. Unhoming its protagonists, readers and critics, postmillennial children’s Gothic challenges existing paradigms in both children’s literature criticism and Gothic Studies. Foremost, this fiction disrupts accounts of children’s literature that assign the form a pedagogical function, and that construct the child reader according to linear narratives of maturation offered by psychoanalysis and ego-relational psychology. In place of the ‘psychoanalytic child’, postmillennial children’s Gothic imagines a nomadic subject, constructing child protagonists and readers across a multiplicity of subject location and identities. There is not one child, but multiple figurations. The transgressive and liberating energies of Gothic play a part in this rejection of traditional figurations of the child. However, postmillennial children’s fiction also challenges critical commonplaces in Gothic Studies. The nomadic project of children’s Gothic runs counter to the melancholic figuration of subjectivity offered by a deconstructive psychoanalytic discourse that informs some analysis of Gothic literature. Unlike the tragic subjectivity of the Gothic wanderer, the nomad offers an affirmative figuration of being. The nomad is transformed through interrelationships with others, likewise transforming the locations through which it travels, suggesting new ways of reading Gothic. Taking its cue from Rosi Braidotti’s theory of nomadic subjectivity, this thesis engages productively with a variety of children’s texts published since 2000, reading them against existing criticism. I offer my analysis of these texts as part of a creative process that imagines non-unitary, non-binary figurations of subjectivity, and seeks to reformulate notions of reading and becoming.

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Thesis (PhD)
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01 Jul 2016 09:00
Last Modified:
10 Oct 2023 23:43