My name’s Liz Parsons and I’m a senior lecturer at Deakin University. I teach in the literary studies area with a specialisation in children’s literature. My research and publications focus on the political dynamics of the broad spectrum of contemporary texts from picture books, through to the junior and young adult novels and films produced for and consumed by children in the present. I’m interested in the cultural power texts have in teaching children about what our society rewards and promotes in terms of identity, but more specifically about the broader global politics of risk society with its focus on surveillance and protection of children in a world perceived to be full of new threats like terrorism and invasion, environmental disasters, and the unknown outcomes of new technologies. These issues are everywhere in contemporary texts for children. I’m reading and watching stories about rising sea levels; terrorism; biotechnologies like cloning and organ theft; the destructive capacity of consumer capitalism; and picture books like Uno’s Garden which entails a counting game of diminishing animal and plant species in a forest bulldozed for houses.
The media we present to children is one of the mechanisms by which we induct children into beliefs and values of our world, including the likes of consumer capitalism, environmentalism and power hierarchies. However, the relationship between politics and children is particularly fraught in the western world because the dominant assumptions are often that children and their texts are innocent and free from politics. Using 4 key ideas for analysis of children’s texts dealing with cultural diversity, I’ll be debunking that assumption of innocence and providing you with a set of critical tools with which to analyse texts.
1. Children’s Fiction – John Stephens
2. Representations of otherness – Stuart Hall
3. Multiculturalism children’s texts – Clare Bradford
4. Whiteness – Richard Dyer
I think these...