Trites argues that the development of the genre over the past thirty years is an outgrowth of postmodernism, since YA novels are, by definition, texts that interrogate the social construction of individuals. Drawing on such nineteenth-century precursors as Little Women and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Disturbing the Universe demonstrates how important it is to employ poststructuralist methodologies in analyzing adolescent literature, both in critical studies and in the classroom. Among the twentieth-century authors discussed are Blume, Hamilton, Hinton, Le Guin, L'Engle, and Zindel.
Trites' work has applications for a broad range of readers, including scholars of children's literature and theorists of post-modernity as well as librarians and secondary-school teachers.
Disturbing the Universe: Power and Repression in Adolescent Literature by Roberta Seelinger Trites is the winner of the 2002 Children's Literature Association's Book Award. The award is given annually in order to promote and recognize outstanding contributions to children's literature, history, scholarship, and criticisim; it is one of the highest academic honors that can accrue to an author of children's literary criticism.
Winner: 2003 Canadian Jewish Book Award for scholarship on a Jewish subject
Finalist: 2003 Alberta Book Awards Scholarly Book of the Year
How do children’s books represent the Holocaust? How do such books negotiate the tension between the desire to protect children, and the commitment to tell children the truth about the world? If Holocaust representations in children’s books respect the narrative conventions of hope and happy endings, how do they differ, if at all, from popular representations intended for adult audiences? And where does innocence lie, if the children’s fable of Roberto Benigni’s Life is Beautiful is marketed for adults, and far more troubling survivor memoirs such as Anita Lobel’s No Pretty Pictures: A Child of War are marketed for children? How should Holocaust Studies integrate discourse about children’s literature into its discussions? In approaching these and other questions, Kertzer uses the lens of children’s literature to problematize the ways in which various adult discourses represent the Holocaust, and continually challenges the conventional belief that children’s literature is the place for easy answers and optimistic lessons.
The Gothic, concerned with the perverse and the forbidden, with adult sexuality and religious or metaphysical doubts and heresies, seems to represent everything that children’s literature, as a genre, was designed to keep out. Indeed, this does seem to be very much the way that children’s literature was marketed in the late eighteenth century, at exactly the same time that the Gothic was really taking off, written by the same women novelists who were responsible for the promotion of a safe and segregated children’s literature.
This collection examines the early intersection of the Gothic and children’s literature and the contemporary manifestations of the gothic impulse, revealing that Gothic elements can, in fact, be traced in children’s literature for as long as children have been reading.