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Cultural Representations in Young Adult Literature

Cultural Representations in Young Adult Literature

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Cultural Representations in Young Adult Literature

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  1. Cultural Representations in Young Adult Literature Meghan Maleski and Debbie Jancik

  2. Multicultural Literature: What Is It? • reflects the society we live in, even to those who live in white communities • explores the lives and experiences of under-represented groups that have not traditionally been represented in literature for young people --Jean E. Brown (1998), p.13

  3. Multicultural Literature: What Is It? • Shows young adults and their culture in their books • Allows young adults to read beyond their own culture • Helps young adults learn to appreciate other cultures • Exposes young adults to a wide range of human experiences • Helps young adults realize that our similarities outweigh our differences --Jean E. Brown (1998), p.13

  4. Cultural Representations – A History • dominated by white male authors • portrayed characters of color in a stereotypical manner • had implied or overt racism and perpetuated white supremacy.

  5. Negative Stereotyping: Examples African American stereotypes in 20th century literature: • The Bobbsey Twins series • The Adventures of Hucklebery Finn • Mary Poppins

  6. The Brownies’ Book • Created by W.E.B. Dubois • First text directed primarily at African American children • Published monthly from January 1920 through December 1921

  7. Civil Rights Movement • New awareness of African American culture • Passage of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 • Allocated funding for schools to purchase books by African Americans

  8. African American literary tradition • Reeducate in the face of stereotypes • Issues driven • Culturally conscious • Integrates art and politics

  9. Themes • Fighting oppression • The expression of pent-up emotions • Self reliance • Self love • Freedom and equality • Focus on political ideas -Wanda M. Brooks (2008), pg. 98

  10. Slave Narratives • Gave birth to the African American literary tradition • Profoundly influential • Stress the importance of freedom • Famous example is Frederick Douglass’ Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave: Written by Himself

  11. Trends in African American Literature • Biographies • - became popular in the 70’s • - a “Who’s who of African American history” • Folktales • - acknowledge and celebrate African American culture • Virginia Hamilton’s The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales • - Walter Dean Myers’ Fallen Angels

  12. Trends in African American Literature • Historical Fiction • -became popular in the 1960’s • - is culturally conscious African American literaature • - emphasizes freedom, ancestry and identity • - set in African American homes or communities • - is one of the most published, popular and awarded of the last three decades

  13. Important Historical Fiction • Examples: Virginia Hamilton’s Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry and The House of Dies Drear • Mildred Taylor’s The Land • Julius Lester’s Day of Tears • Angela Johnson’s Toning the Sweep

  14. Other features • Non linear plots • employs flashbacks and circular narrative structure • Taken from oral tradition • Examples: Toni Morrison’s Beloved • Patricia C. McKissacks’ Christmas in the Big House • References to the supernatural • Angela Johnson’s Heaven and Toning the Sweep

  15. Asian American Literature • Folklore and historical fiction • The Story of the Monkey King’s Odyssey • Laurence Yep – historical stories of Chinese immigration • Historic themes • Generational conflict • Celebrations such as the Chinese New Year

  16. Native American Literature • Folklore and historical fiction: • Virginia Hamilton’s In the Beginning: Creation Stories from Around the World • Ignatia Broker’s Nightflying Woman • Gary Paulsen’s Dogsong • Elizabeth George Speare’sThe Sign of the Beaver • Jean Craighead George’s Julie of the Wolves • Scott O’Dell’s Sing Down the Moon

  17. Latino Literature • Very few young adult books • Historical fiction • Themes of religion, familial respect, and cultural values • Scott O’Dell’s The Black Pearl and The King’s Fifth • Rudolfo Anaya’s Bless Me, Ultima • Sandra Cisnero’sThe House on Mango Street • The works of Pura Belpre

  18. Awards • The Coretta Scott King Award • The Caldecott Award • Asian Pacific American Library Association (APALA) • Pura Belpre • Americas Award

  19. Challenges • Lack of books written for other cultures • Cultural literature becomes relegated to its respective month • White communities do not include multicultural books on their shelves • “Young adult literature…despite its increasing diversity, still too often maintains a quiet indifference that is racism in its most subtle form” Andrea Davis Pinkney (2001), pg. 535

  20. How to Promote • Choose works of quality • Learn about other cultures • Choose award winners that are culturally authentic • Pair books across cultures that have related themes • Multidimensional look at a culture • Websites • Ways to analyze Children’s Books for Racism and Sexism www.osi.hu/iep/Workshops/anti_bia/ten_ways.html Young Adult Latino Titles: www.reforma.org