Melancholia and Maturation
The Use of Trauma in American Children's Literature
Publication Year: 2010
Published by: The University of Tennessee Press
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I genuinely appreciate a number of people who have been so important in my personal and professional life over the past decade or so and who thereby supported my writing of this book. I am especially grateful to Kenneth Kidd at the University of Florida and Steve Kruger at the City University of New York Graduate Center, who have both put in untold time and effort reading and responding...
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This book examines a common narrative in twentieth-century American literature for youth: that of the child-protagonist’s love for some cherished object—a dear friend, a dog, a possibility, an ideal—the loss of that loved object, and his or her subsequent maturation through the experience of loving...
Chapter 1: Losing and Using Queer Youth
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For traumatic loss to function as a catalyst for melancholic maturation, a range of objects must be marked out as available for sacrifice. One of the key objects used for this purpose is same-sex affection or queerness.1 When I refer to queer youth or objects, I mean to suggest that they are marked...
Chapter 2: A Boy and His Dog
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The image of the canine companion in Western literature has a long history, dating back at least to Homer’s The Odyssey, in which Odysseus’s faithful dog, Argos, long awaits his master’s return to Ithaca and dies only upon seeing him. This tradition extends through Shakespeare...
Chapter 3: Knowing, Unknowing, and the Achievement of Young Adulthood
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The work of S. E. Hinton, known for her groundbreaking young adult fiction, is marked by traumatic loss, usually of delinquent youth who have run afoul of the law. Through the loss of their delinquent friends, the surviving protagonists in Hinton’s first two novels...
Chapter 4: Melancholic Development and Revolutionary War Fiction for Children
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In 2001, Newsweek writer Evan Thomas coined the phrase “Founders chic” to describe the surge of public interest at the beginning of the new millennium in the Founders and the events surrounding the American Revolution. Studies of the Founders have not only enjoyed massive sales and long-term...
Chapter 5: Melancholic Sacrifice and the Holocaust in American Children's Culture
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The number of children’s books about the Holocaust is astonishing. Edward Sullivan lists 142 fictional accounts and 15 picture books in his bibliography, The Holocaust in Literature for Youth. Many of these books have been published in the United States and written by American authors...
Coda: Physical Trauma, Childhood Embodiment, and Children’s Literature
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Some the most popular and critically acclaimed children’s books increasingly promote an ethic of renunciation that is represented as critical to melancholic maturity. In her introduction to the special forum on “Trauma and Children’s Literature,” Katherine Capshaw Smith refers...
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Page Count: 200
Publication Year: 2010