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On orphanhood

May 2, 2011

I was just wondering about the use of orphansis the idea that WITH family, the problems these characters (Harry Potter, Adam Equinox, Anne of Green Gables, Sister Maryam (in The Crossing)…) encounter wouldn’t arise? (and which problems are those BTW?)

Is it that family should provide certain types of support and when such support is missing, ‘stories happen’ (that are appropriate for Young Adult audiences)? How do books with orphan protagonists compare to books about dysfunctional families or unusual families (The 10pm Question, for example)?  

Do these books target age groups differently? Do they have different target audiences? I’m inclined to think they do… you certainly don’t get much ‘adult’ literature about orphans (or literature for very young readers?)… so what does this reveal about how we see these age groups?

Jerome Bruner says somewhere (I think in ‘self-making and world making’ in Narrative and identity: studies in autobiography, self and culture by Jens Brockmeier, Donal A. Carbaugh) that we can see “family as a system for containing and counteracting centrifugal tendencies“… I need to track this down for context, but it’s an interesting idea!

Another reference to chase when I get a chance:

There’s an article by Dorothy G Clark (“Edging toward Bethlehem: Rewriting the Myth of Childhood in Voigt’s Homecoming” CLAQ 2000-2001?), in which, the Editor, Roberta Seelinger-Trites, claims, “Clark describes how Voigt transforms the traditional orphan tale from its Romantic origins to comment on the crisis of childhood in twentieth-century American culture.  In the process, Clark assesses the resilience of children who survive abuse.” Resilience! Oh I am interested…

There are resources on the internet (of course!) for LM Montgomery (The University of Guelph L.M. Montgomery Collection and L.M. Montgomery Research Centre), so perhaps they will offer something….

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