#TheRealMe: Phenomenology, New Materialism, and Social Media Self-Imaging
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Young Adult Literature
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This dissertation explores discourses of difference used by students throughout one year in a Francophone minority language school. This ethnography was conducted in the students’ social studies classes, where drama was used as a (post)critical pedagogy to teach and explore differences embedded in the curriculum. Drawing on critical, Indigenous, and poststructural theories this project explores how the students used discourses of difference in their interactions in and out of the classroom and during dramatic work. This study reveals that the participating youth used categories of difference, like race, ethnicity, indigeneity, class, and youth, in ways marked by ambiguity, humour, irony, and dissatisfaction, as well as attempts to govern and discipline the boundaries of these constructed categories. Discourses of race consistently emerged in informal educational spaces, such as school hallways; however, the students avoided them in the formal classroom space, a practice linked to the dominance of whiteness in the Canadian educational context. Drama activities created liminal spaces that disrupted the discursive distinction between informal and formal educational spaces, allowing limited access to the students’ informal discourses of race during instructional time. Overarching schooling structures made seizing such moments difficult, in order to disrupt and unpack categories of difference. Furthermore, the students’ problematic racial humour and representational practices surfaced during and immediately following classroom drama activities in ways that reinforced colonial ideas about belonging and unbelonging in Canadian schools. This study fills gaps in existing research on Francophone minority language schooling by exploring how race, ethnicity, indigeneity, class, and gender intersected in the identifications and discourses of participating youth. These findings trouble the myth of seamless integration in minority language Francophone schools and suggest that linguistic affiliation is an insufficient basis for inclusion and that schools must work to address the significant impact that differences of race, ethnicity, indigeneity, class, and gender have on youth’s lives. Furthermore, this study complicates literature in drama-in-education by examining the possibilities and limitations applied theatre affords for unpacking categories of difference in the classroom. It proposes that pedagogical approaches that are explicitly anti-racist and decolonizing are needed in order to achieve such results.
In this qualitative case study, I explored the process of identity construction of plurilingual students attending a Francophone minority school in British Columbia. Using a theoretical framework informed by a sociocultural perspective on literacies (Barton & Hamilton, 2000; Street, 1984), positioning theories of identity (Davies & Harré, 1990; Blackledge & Pavlenko, 2001), plurilingualism and pluricultural competence (Marshall & Moore, 2013; Moore, 2006), and multimodality (Cope & Kalantzis, 2000; Kress, 2000a, 2000b), I investigated how focal students negotiated multiple subject positions as plurilingual and pluricultural in the context of literacy events in a classroom. My analysis focused on their use of linguistic and cultural resources in their oral interactions, and on their use of modes of representation in their digital multimodal texts. I gathered data through ethnographic methods, and I also collected multimodal digital texts. My analysis of literacy events allowed for identification of “moments of positioning” as plurilingual and pluricultural, in which students activated some of their linguistic and cultural resources, and/or modes of representation to negotiate multiple subject positions. This study of moments of positioning provides a close analysis of factors inhibiting the expression and recognition of some subject positions as legitimate in the classroom. For instance, the monolingual school Discourse – with an upper case D, as conceptualized by Gee (1996, 2001, 2005) – may limit the negotiation of plurilingual and pluricultural subject positions. This study makes significant contributions to research on identity in the fields of literacy and language learning, and in the research on identity in Francophone minority schools. It shows how a Discourse might lead students to express some of their subject positions in their classroom setting, and not others. My analysis of moments of positioning supports current poststructuralist views of identity as dynamic, fluid, and performed in interactions and adds to research demonstrating that subject positions are not stable entities negotiated once and acquired forever (Blackledge & Pavlenko, 2001). In the field of research on multimodality, my research adds to the literature arguing that multimodality can be a powerful tool that children can use when they create texts in which they negotiate subject positions.
The purpose of this study was to explore how identity texts and narrative writing could strengthen adolescents’ writing and support adolescents’ identity explorations. The study took place in an English 10 First Peoples class in a small, remote community in northern British Columbia. The context was highly unique; therefore, the study also includes findings regarding the students’ and community’s response to a compulsory course with Indigenous content, the struggles for educators teaching the course, and the perceived strengths of the course. This qualitative case study (Stake, 1995) was guided by the metaphor of the Haida dogfish mother. It drew upon Indigenous storywork principles (Archibald, 2008) to create an ethical framework that extended beyond institutional standards for ethical conduct in research. This merging of methodologies invited improvisation, dialogue, and inner reflection to explore the role of stories, ancestry, history, and lived experiences in this research. Indigenous and non-Indigenous students, teachers, administrators, community members, and a parent were interviewed and observations were conducted in the English 10 First Peoples classroom, and the data were analyzed using the iterations of the k’aad ‘aww dance. The findings from this study indicated that adolescents generally engage more with writing that is based on topics of their choice and personal experiences. The adolescents shared ways that writing transformed their lives and strengthened their relationships. They also appreciated the inclusion of non-writing activities in their English language arts class. In this study, the resistance to English 10 First Peoples as a required course resulted in racially discriminatory conversations. These suggest the need to further explore ways to ensure all students and educators have access to accurate and respectful Indigenous content and history and to ensure that educators are not engaging in a racism of low expectations (Auditor General of British Columbia, 2015). The educators offered suggestions for improved support for courses that are rich in Indigenous content and pedagogical practices; overall they expressed that the strengths of the course far outweighed the struggles. All of the participants in this study emphasized the importance of building strong relationships between students and educators.
This critical ethnography investigates the pedagogical spaces constituted within a youth-led, participatory theatre production, Surviving in the Cracks (Wager et al., 2009). The popular theatre production documented the lived experiences of eight street-youth, including their struggles to survive in the face of cuts to public health resources in Vancouver. As an applied theatre study, this theatre project is defined as a messy and rich site of pedagogical inquiry that is examined through multiple theoretical and methodological frameworks. It draws on critical feminist pedagogy, critical youth studies and theatre and literacy research with the purpose of revealing how drama and theatre spaces provide “anomalous” (Ellsworth, 2005) learning places, or out-of-the-ordinary learning spaces, that youth and researchers collectively embodied during the applied drama and theatre process and production. Analysis of ethnographic data generated before, during, and after the theatrical production of Surviving in the Cracks suggests how drama and theatre with street youth opens up embodied pedagogical spaces. Two different methods of analysis bring multiple perspectives to this work through exploring how meaning was collectively constructed, how multimodal literacy practices were used in critical ways, how power was negotiated, how desire was manifested through imaginaries, and how safe spaces were generated by this community of youth within selected pedagogical moments of resistance during the theatre process. Specifically, the script is analyzed with a youth participant, followed by the analysis of particular moments of resistance during performance creation and production. This research advances knowledge of how informal learning spaces and youth resistances within education become crucial parts of pedagogy and should be considered as future foundations and expansions of education. Implications include using multiple methodological lenses in order to work alongside, for and with youth, as well as being able to reach larger audiences of youth, communities, educators, and scholars through different analytical perspectives. By examining how theatre provides a space for marginalized youth to engage in dialogues about complex social issues, this research contributes to the fields of critical and feminist pedagogy, language and literacy education, drama in education, critical youth studies, and collaborative methodological studies in qualitative research.
The focus of this work is on how visual cohesive resources construct coherent picturebook texts. In particular, I analyze how the cohesive resources of colour and repetition construct meaning across a visual sequential narrative in the picturebook format. While there has been deep scholarship on the picturebook format, especially on the meanings, how and what readers glean from them, and how they work and support literacy and literary development, there is little systematic study on the construction of meaning and even less that uses a social semiotic theory of multimodal meaning construction. The study is based on the close analysis of two acclaimed picturebooks, Where the Wild Things Are and How to Heal a Broken WingThe broader implications of my study stem from the use of the multimodal picturebook as the focus of analysis. The picturebook is a widely acknowledged literary format - a sequential narrative multimodal form that is brief, concise, and ideal for the delicate analysis of multisemiosis. This investigation is timely and relevant to the growing imperative to involve future educators and students in multimodal learning and literary response and assessment activities.My reflections discuss the three outcomes of this study that provide new resources for picturebook analysis and have the potential for application beyond children’s literature and picturebook creation as resources for multimodal learning and assessment. The first outcome is a framework of resource systems and the textual environments that they construct. The systems and environments are central to the analysis and creation of picturebooks and multimodal sequential narrative texts. The second outcome is a defined set of cohesive colour configurations that are resources for assessing and editing visual cohesion in sequential visual narratives and other multimodal forms. And third is a set of descriptions of the ways visual repetition constructs continuity and cohesion, with particular attention to ways that salience and framing provide additional fresh critical resources for multimodal analysis and creation.
In this dissertation I analyse lesbian and gay picturebooks and the discourse of a censorship challenge to these books. I take a deconstructive approach to the material, using queer theory, children’s literature criticism and children’s culture theory to analyse the ways in which the knowledge/ignorance and adult/child binaries are reinscribed and undone in these discourses. I focus on absences of LGBT-specific language, physical bodies, difference and non-normative gender identities in the picturebooks, and analyse a wide range of media in a challenge in Lexington, Massachusetts which began in 2005. I argue that both the books and the discourse of the challenge have the effect of reinscribing a construction of the ideal child as ignorant and asexual. This conceptualisation of childhood dismisses actual children’s ability to absorb, challenge or disseminate knowledge, and refuses to offer them possibilities of non-normative genders and sexualities for their lives. I argue that, due to the focus on sexuality and the unavoidably pedagogical nature of children’s literature, the picturebooks inherently trouble the knowledge/ignorance binary. Due to this disruptive condition the normalising politics of the picturebooks are inadequate to prevent the books from becoming controversial. Queer picturebooks that resisted normalisation and represented real difference would better respect the intellectual and emotional needs of child readers.
This study examined the selection and development of character focalization in four children’s novels. Character focalization was defined as the location of fictional world perception in the mind of a character. Novels by Meindert DeJong, Katherine Paterson, and Susan Patron were analyzed using systemic-functional resources (Halliday and Matthiessen, 2004), narrative concepts, and a model of focalization described by Rimmon-Kenan (Narrative Fiction, 2002). The study showed that one character in each novel is selected and developed as the prominent fictional world sensory perceiver, emoter, and thinker. Moonta Riemersma in Far Out the Long Canal (DeJong, 1964), Jess Aarons in Bridge to Terabithia (Paterson, 1977), Gilly Hopkins in The Great Gilly Hopkins (Paterson, 1978), and Lucky Trimble in The Higher Power of Lucky (Patron, 2006) are selected and developed as focalizing characters in and beyond the first few chapters of their novels. Distinctive seeing-, hearing-, emoting-, and thinking-patterns obtain in the first few chapters and are subsequently developed according to the principles of continuation, augmentation, or reconfiguration. These distinctive patterns represent the focalized, the people and things perceived. All four characters selected as focalizers are cognitively-engaged individuals, and their thinking reveals their personal understandings about themselves, others, and their lived experiences. This study offers a rich description of four focalizations and a methodology for exploring character focalization in fiction for children, adolescents, and adults. The author suggests that students in fourth through sixth grade will benefit academically and personally by exploring questions centering on focalization in the novels they read, discuss, and reflect on at school.
This thesis draws on Social Symbolic Mediation Theory, Social Semiotics, and DiscursivePositioning Theories to explore a theoretical model I call “Authorship as Assemblage.” Thismodel considers authorship broadly; it posits that authors are “declared, hidden, or withdrawn”contributors of multimodal meanings who orchestrate an array of semiotic resources, social(inter)actions, and discursive positions within and across a variety of social contexts (Barthes,1970, p. 110). A literature review and three case studies suggest some of the ways multimodalauthorship can be theorized and explored within and across social contexts, including a child’sout-of-school environments, during professional picturebook-making collaboration, and in asummer camp where youth explore playbuilding. By considering authorship broadly, itssignificance in the multiple fields of study can be seen. Findings of the thesis include thatauthorship can not be thought of as a isolated or stable phenomenon, for it is bound up withsemiotic, social, and critical meanings that interrelate with and interanimate each other.
This study investigates the forces and affects of contemporary devised theatre practices in education. Inquiries at two sites form the basis of research: an analysis of professional contemporary devising practice with regard to educational applications and implications within it; and an analysis of a devising process in a secondary school program to consider the benefits and limitations of this approach in the context of education. This work is situated within a poststructural perspective on embodied pedagogy (Davies, 2000; Ellsworth, 2005; St. Pierre & Pillow, 2000), and within the theory of nomadic thought, as developed by Giles Deleuze (1990; 1994) and his collaborations with Felix Guattari (1983; 1987). Taking up pedagogy in this light, I consider the student as a body/mind/self in motion (Ellsworth, 2005) and focus on a non-representational perspective of analysis, understanding pedagogy to be lived and experienced by means of forces of affect, sensation and interrelation. Accordingly, this study challenges the dominant perspective on pedagogy, as occurring and evaluated according to representational logic, reliant on semiotic systems. This study asks: What can be gained from a new lens through which to understand the construction of theatre and drama in education? And, what are the connections and crevices between theatre practices today and theatre and drama in education?
Research findings point to reading comprehension as an important mediator of academic achievement for French immersion students (Hogan, Caffs, & Little, 2005). This research investigated the best predictors of word reading and reading comprehension in French as a second language in 72 Grade 3 students of an early French immersion programme. The present research is based on Bemhardt’s (2005) model of second language reading, which views reading comprehension as an interactive-compensatory process. Four main questions guided this program of study: (1) What is the best predictor of word reading among phonological awareness, spelling, verbal working memory, vocabulary and morphological awareness in Grade 3 French immersion students? (2) What is the best predictor of reading comprehension amongphonological awareness, spelling, verbal working memory, vocabulary and morphological awareness in Grade 3 French immersion students? (3) What is the relative role of second language cultural knowledge compared to phonological awareness, spelling, verbal working memory, vocabulary and morphological awareness in Grade 3 French immersion students’ reading comprehension? and (4) What do French immersion Grade 3 students perceive as different in a culturally less and more familiar text that affected their reading comprehension and which cultural context do they prefer and why? Results from hierarchical regression analyses showed that phonological awareness and spelling predicted word reading, whereas morphological awareness predicted readingcomprehension of isolated sentences. Reading comprehension of a narrative text with morefamiliar cultural emphasis was predicted by receptive vocabulary (EVIP). Readingcomprehension of a narrative text with less familiar cultural emphasis was predicted by second language cultural knowledge, followed by morphological awareness. However, participantsperceived the culturally more familiar passage easier and perceived the culturally less familiarpassage as more engaging. Thus, results from the study appear to confirm that reading is an interactive compensatory process. Several theoretical, pedagogical and programme development implications are drawnfrom the present research.
This thesis examines the way format, content and linguistic elements convey social issues portrayed in picturebooks. Drawing on David Lewis’ theory of the picturebook as process, three works by Shaun Tan, The Arrival, The Rabbits, and The Red Tree, are analyzed. These analyses illustrate how Tan uses the interplay between text and illustration to provide social commentary on immigration, colonialism, and depression respectively.
This study uses thing theory as a focal lens to examine the way subject/object relationships are portrayed within two fantasy novels— Neil Gaiman’s Coraline and Hiromi Goto’s Half World— that have elements of horror in them. It takes into consideration the tropes and stereotypes present within dark stories for children and uses thing theory to look at how subjects and objects are introduced to one another within a horror setting and, consequently, how they transform each other through either use or misuse. This allows for a fuller understanding of how subjects and objects transgress and mutate within the horror genre. It provides an alternative direction from which to approach the analysis of character development by understanding the ways in which child protagonists are transformed by objects and how they, in turn, can manipulate things and situations to shift the balance of power in their favour. The findings provide an alternative approach to the further study of gender representations and cultural identities in horror fiction for children and young adults.
This thesis examines the ways in which trauma, language, culture, and displacement are represented in Journey of Dreams, by Marge Pellegrino, and Tree Girl, by Ben Mikaelsen, two pieces of refugee juvenile fiction portraying Guatemalan Maya children as protagonists. Using trauma theory and a combination of neocolonial and dominant discourse theories as my lenses, as well as Rigoberta Menchú’s memoir as a framing text, I examined passages containing traumatic events as well as descriptions of Maya language and culture, and protagonists’ responses to displacement to determine how these aspects were represented in the two novels. I found that both books contained neocolonial dominant discourses and simplified healing processes embedded in the texts, but to varying degrees.
While there have been many young-adult and children’s novels and stories published that deal with school and teachers, there have been comparatively few studies done that analyze the messages these novels contain about formal classroom education, specifically about teacher characters. As well, the subject of school has been a relatively consistent theme for Hollywood movies and media geared towards teenagers and children, but, like their novel counterparts, analysis has been relatively light. J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series places itself in a very unique position in popular culture as the highest-selling book series and highest-grossing film series of all time; a series that mainly focuses on an education system, albeit for wizards and witches rather than muggles. Nonetheless, this thesis proposes to examine the professors at Hogwarts and to show whether or not Rowling has created a series of complex teacher characters; characters that are usually not a source of complexity in young adult or children’s literature. Additionally, this thesis will also examine how these characters have been adapted from the page to the screen and whether or not the movie versions of these teacher characters have retained any complexity found in Rowling’s novels. As Petra Rehling writes, “without question, Harry Potter has become the figurehead of our time” (249), and I firmly believe that this figurehead is worth examining and analyzing for its portrayals and representations of real-world teachers, people who are arguably one of the largest influences on children and teenagers during their early lives.
This research investigates approaches to teaching world literature in the International Baccalaureate (IB) English A program. Reading world literature can connect students with experiences outside their own, and build bridges between different cultures, times, and places. This research suggests practices for the world literature classroom that help students foster understanding between cultures and an awareness of multiple perspectives, and supports the IB aim of creating “a better and more peaceful world” (IB, 2009). Combining literature review with narrative interviews of eleven IB English teachers, the research also articulates challenges to teaching world literature (the enduring power of the literary canon, difficulties of working in translation, prior knowledge of students, limitations of schools and curricula) as well as potential benefits of reading world literature (self awareness, increased empathy, connection to other places and times). The findings suggests that to meet the international and peace aims of the program the IB should take measures to increase the diversity of texts taught in the Works in Translation component of the course and provide additional resources for classroom teachers to engage with new texts outside the traditional canon, with a particular emphasis on the inclusion of Indigenous and post-colonial texts. These approaches will allow students to interact with a broader range of stories and experiences, and contribute to the possibility of a better and more peaceful world.
This thesis examines cultural authenticity as it relates to the teen protagonists in two young adult novels, Looking for Alibrandi and Saving Francesca, by Melina Marchetta. Cultural authenticity will be assessed and applied to the analysis of the novels with the consideration that cultural authenticity is achieved in fictional works for young readers when characters’ identities display a sense of cultural hybridity. The analysis of cultural authenticity is informed by theorists in cultural studies and studies in teacher education, which outline the negotiation of a cultural hybrid identity and a multicultural identity in multicultural postcolonial nations.
This study explores the visual representations of the immigrant journey from assimilation to community to hybridity. A sample of Asian-American and Asian-Australian picture books and graphic novels Hannah Is My Name: A Young Immigrant’s Story (written and illustrated by Belle Yang), The Arrival (written and illustrated by Shaun Tan), and American Born Chinese (written and illustrated by Gene Luen Yang), were examined for an understanding of visual representations of the cultural hybrid identity of Asian immigrants to inform classroom practice. This literary analysis is framed by five areas of scholarship: the power of picture books for young readers; Asian-American literary theory; perspectives on multicultural literature; the move from multicultural literary theory to postcolonial theory; and in particular Bhabha’s postcolonial theory of cultural hybridity. The analysis concludes that the immigrant journey moves from assimilation to community to resistance, resulting in the most current representation of the Asian immigrant as negotiating a culturally hybrid identity.
The Holocaust has been increasingly represented in literature for young adults and children; this representation often makes use of alternative forms of narrative. For example, the young adult texts Briar Rose, by Jane Yolen, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, by John Boyne, and The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak, use the forms of the fairy tale, the fable, and a very unique narrator, respectively, to represent the Holocaust in narrative. This thesis uses Theresa Rogers’ identification of spaces of the Holocaust to show which spaces are represented in each text, and Rick Altman’s theory of narrative to discuss how the narratives function in relation to the framing and following-patterns used.