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…giving them a place and sense of identity…

April 11, 2011

Althusser uses Christian religious ideology to explain how religion speaks to individuals and constructs them as subjects of that religious ideology, giving them a place and sense of identity.  A sense of nationness is accomplished in the same manner. The narratives (including children’s literature) a nation tells itself are part of that process.  Bronwyn Davies explains that ‘Lived narratives [‘subject positions’ or ‘the storylines that make up one’s life’] take the form they do because we can imagine ourselves being a certain kind of person who utters certain kinds of words which lead to certain kinds of outcomes.  Without that imagined storyline into which our lives fit it is hard to know how we could make choices as we proceed through the everyday world’ (Nodelman and Reimer 178).  Thus, as Perry Nodelman and Mavis Reimer explain, ‘the narratives children see on TV or read in books play an important part in making them who they believe themselves to be.  In offering subject positions, fictional texts for children work to construct their readers’ subjectivity’ (178).  It should not be difficult, then, to entertain the idea that children’s literature has the potential to convey a sense of nation when those narratives impart, in the case of the US, cultural imperatives such as democracy, literacy, capitalism, the ‘American way of life,’ or anything else that is part and parcel of its imagined identity.  It is ideologically embedded in the conscious, the subconscious, and unconscious.” (p98)

Ref: (all emphases mine) Susan Louise Stewart (2008) ‘Beyond Borders: Reading ‘Other’ Places in Children’s Literature’ Children’s Literature in Education 39; 95-105  [quoting Nodelman, Perry, and Mavis Reimer.  The Pleasures of Children’s Literature, 3rd edn.  Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2003.]


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