Monday, October 16, 2006

Waking Sleeping Beauty: Feminist Voices in Children's Novels by Roberta Seelinger Trites

A little bit of theory and criticism to get me thinking. Trites is one of the professors in Illinois State University's English Dept, part of their masters/PhD program in young adult and/or children's lit. I'm thinking of applying next year, so I'm doing a little recon.

In Waking Sleeping Beauty, Trites examines several children's/YA novels through the lens of feminine criticism. She begins by discussing feminist criticism, and points out that it doesn't just look at female characters or "girl" books, but at all books where feminist issues of subjectivity, voice, etc. are important. A book can be a feminist novel even if it has a male protagonist.
As literary criticism, most of the chapters are quite readable. I found Trites' explanation of "subjectivity" as a literary term a bit foggy; a more clear explanation would have been helpful since it is an important concept referred to repeatedly throughout the book.
I thoroughly enjoyed the early chapters, examining voice and subjectivity in classics like Little Women (one of my favorites), Cassie Binegar and The Hero and the Crown. However, as I got further into the book, I found myself wondering where the recent title were. The book was published in 1997, but the majority of the YA texts examined were published in the 1970s and 1980s. While the concepts Trites examines are universal and can certainly be applied to books from any era, I missed a discussion that included text that were more contemporary. However, in all, Waking Sleeping Beauty is an excellent introduction to the feminist study of children's literature.

What I'm Reading: Stacks of Buffy books
On my bookshelf: More Buffy books & Finding Serenity


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