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Title: Making men : representations of boyhoods in contemporary young adult fictions
Authors: Gill, Michele
Issue Date: 2012
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: From the early 1990s onwards the representations of boyhoods which have been most visible in the United Kingdom, Australia, and the USA have suggested that boys as a group are problematic both to themselves and to the societies in which they live. Images which have been projected from cultural spaces including film, advertising, music, and the popular press produce pictures of danger and conversely, inadequacy. A number of generalist books which have appeared on the market express anxieties about boys’ futures, citing with regularity problems with emotional literacy and educational underachievement. Academic literature, in responding to these claims, has largely become framed by the notion of ‘crisis’, giving priority either to boyhoods which are perceived as problematic or addressing the discourse either to prove or disprove its validity. Far less work has gone into exploring other, more positive aspects of boys’ lives and their attendant optimistic, affirmative images with which boys can engage. This thesis explores a neglected source of cultural images of boyhoods; novels drawn from the genre of young adult fiction with teenage, male protagonists and published in the UK, Australia, and the USA from the 1990s into the new millennium. In doing so it considers ways in which fictional boys are portrayed in these texts and the images which they are projecting about boyhoods to potential readers. My research reveals that this area of publishing offers diverse images of fictional boyhoods, some of which do address questions raised in the course of the ‘crisis’ debate, some presenting other versions of being young and male. I conclude that as a body of work they represent a positive source for images of boyhoods and, significantly, reinstate the perception of boys as individual, unique and diverse; something which is missing from most of the iii representations which arise from the ‘crisis’ discourse, with its construction of boys as a homogenous group whose members lack individual agency. As such, they offer readers (male and female, juvenile and adult) an alternative source of cultural imagery - more individualistic, more optimistic - about boyhoods, than many of the more visible and debated cultural versions currently in circulation in the UK, Australia and the USA. Key works discussed (listed alphabetically by author): The Tragedy of Miss Geneva Flowers by Joe Babcock, Tyrell by Coe Booth, Blade: Playing Dead by Tim Bowler, Doing It by Melvin Burgess, The Heroic Lives of Al Capsella by Judith Clarke, My Side of the Story by Will Davis, Metro by Alasdair Duncan, Sushi Central by Alasdair Duncan, 48 Shades of Brown by Nick Earls, Deadly Unna? by Philip Gwynne, Nukkin’ Ya by Philip Gwynne, By the River by Steven Herrick, What We Do Is Secret by Thorn Kief Hillsbery, Jack by A.M. Holmes, Mahalia by Joanne Horniman, Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz, Slam by Nick Hornby, The First Part Last by Angela Johnson, Harold’s End by JT LeRoy, Boy meets Boy by David Levithan, Indigo’s Star by Hilary McKay, Boy Soldier series by Andy McNab, Cherub Club series by Robert Muchamore, Monster by Walter Dean Myers, Sad Boys by Glyn Parry, The Crew by Bali Rai, Gangsta Rap by Benjamin Zephaniah.
Description: Ph.D. Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics

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