Journey of Female Characters in the Work of Edith Nesbit, Enid Blyton, Joanne Kathleen Rowling, Joss Whedon, and Rockne S. O’ Bannon: A Study of the Interactions of Gender and Genre

Author: Colgan, Lesley-Ann
Year:2016
Pages:356
ISBN:1-4955-0463-8
978-1-4955-0463-1
Price:239.95
This work aims to take a chronological view of the changing limitations imposed on female characters, within various genres, using the work of writers/creators whose work has inspired a degree of public as well as critical interest. It provides the reader with a new and broader understanding of the evolution of gender representation within various genres in children’s literature.

Reviews

“Gender, as we now know, is an ideological construct which is superadded on the natural biological differences between men and women. Feminist and literary theory have made significant strides in broadening our understanding of how gender is different from biology, and the cultural dimensions of gender ideology have been teased out and deconstructed over the past number of years.

What is read at a young age can lodge seeds and sediments which have life-long implications, and this is one reason why gender assumptions in the stories our children read, and in the programmes which our children see on television, are in serious need of analysis and scholarship. This book provides just such scholarship…looking at a range of childhood stories written by Nesbit, Blyton and Rowling as well as television, Colgan traces the development of the female character across time and culture…”
Dr. Eugene O’Brien,
Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick


Dr. Colgan examines childhood stories as well as trendy television series in the light of female gender roles. Colgan’s study is culturally significant. What stands out in her book is the affection she demonstrates along with her critical sense. For this reason as well as her investigation of the normative value of the texts under consideration, her study contributes to the scholarship of an already fertile subject.”
Dr. John DelliCarpini,
Temple University


“The comparison and contrast of the books and television programmes provide a multi-media perspective on the issue of the representation of young women in fiction, and the gradual movement towards greater agency and independence by the characters as the programmes and books become more modern is a very interesting feature of the book…it is well researched, well presented and adds to our knowledge of the issues of the representation of gender.”
Dr. John McDonagh,
Senior Lecturer, Department of English Language and Literature


“Dr. Colgan’s great achievement is that she enables us to understand how the depictions of gender-representation in children’s literature have wider societal implications and why it is a moral issue for society that gender-representation continues to be interrogated, questioned and reflected upon.. This book furnishes readers with a critical, informed and discriminating lens with which to view children’s literature and reminds us never to underestimate the impact of the stories children experience on their present and future lives.”
Dr. Emer Ring,
Head of Department of Reflective Pedagogy and Early Childhood Studies,
Mary Immaculate College


Table of Contents

Abstract
Foreword by Eugene O’Brien
Introduction
1. Females in Fantasy – Little Green People Leading the Way
1.1 What is Fantasy?
1.2 Why Fantasy?
1.3 Selection and History of Authors / Creators
1.3.1 A Closer Look: E. Nesbit
1.3.2 A Closer Look: J.K. Rowling
1.3.3 A Closer Look: Whedon
1.3.4 A Closer Look: O’Bannon
1.4 It’s a Man’s World: The Underlying Power Structure of the Fantasy-Worlds
1.4.1 Nesbit: the Natural Disabilities of Women
1.4.2 Rowling: the Unnatural Disabilities of Witches
1.4.3 Whedon: the Supernatural Abilities of Women
1.4.4 Farscape: the Preternatural Abilities of Female Aliens
1.5 Strong Females Living within Conventional Gender Roles Girls and Women Who Follow the Golden Rule: the Tension between Self and Sacrifice
1.5.1 Girls and Women who Read, Write and Rhyme: Language and Female Empowerment
1.5.2 Girls and Women who Compete: Pushing the Boundaries of the Status Quo
1.5.3 Beyond Gender Boundaries: Women Who Walk Outside the Lines
1.6 Conclusion
2. Profiling the Girl Detectives
2.1 History of the Girl Detective
2.1.1 The Industry of Nancy Drew
2.2 Image, Femininity and Self Identity
2.2.1 Oceans Apart? Girl Detectives vs Tomboy Sleuths
2.2.2 A Modern Take: Girl Sleuths of Today
2.2.3 A View from the Small Screen: Buffy and Veronica Mars
2.3 Rape, Violence and the Girl Detective
2.3.1 The Textual Spectrum – Invincible Nancy to Vulnerable Hermione
2.3.2 Making Subtext Text – Sexuality and Violence in Buffy and Veronica Mars
3. School Stories
3.1 Introduction
3.2 The Girls’ School Story- History
3.2.1 The Critics
3.3 School Stories
3.3.1 Before the School Story
3.3.2 A Time of Change
3.3.3 Thrills and Chills
3.3.4 Reality vs Fiction: the Anxious Backlash
3.4 Past and Present: New Takes on Old Tropes
3.4.1 Competition & Community: Contrasting School Structures
3.4.2 Power and Discipline within School Structures
3.4.3 Gender Blending and Adolescence in the School Story
3.5 The Question of the ‘Other’
3.5.1 Working Class Heroes, Zeroes, Witches and Wizards
3.5.2 Ethnic and Racial Diversity: Exchange Students and the Diversity of Wizarding Culture
3.6 Pushing the Boundaries: Potential of the School Story
4. Conclusion
Bibliography
Index