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Sexual orientation in YA lit

September 2, 2011

The 2008 CLAQ offers a couple of articles on sexuality in YA Lit.

“Amy Pattee,” for example, according to the editorial, “argues that David Levithan’s Boy Meets Boy is a queer utopian novel by virtue of its appropriation of the ”wish-fulfillment’ narratives’ of the romance novel genre, the themes of GLBTQ-themed young adult literature, and gay pornography to ‘describe and normalize… same-sex relationships.’  Paradoxically, the novel makes visible the ideology of compulsory heterosexuality in large part because that ideology is absent from the novel’s utopian world.” (my emphasis, p118)

Flynn also writes that when Tison Pugh and David Wallace sent a postscript to their Fall 2006 CLAQ article, ‘Heteronormative Heroism and Queering the School Story in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series’ (“in response to Rowling’s post-series outing of Dumbledore”), the editors of CLAQ decided to invite responses from other scholars.

“Rowling’s announcement about Dumbledore’s sexual orientation may well have positive implications for the cultural and literary text we call Harry Potter.  Rowling seems to have had a hard time letting go of her text, but now that she has, there are a lot of interesting things readers can do with words as they play with her fictional world.  Nevertheless, when I think of the restrictions imposed on young readers in my hometown, I have to agree with the Potter fan quoted in Catherine Tosenberger’s essay who observes that Rowling’s revelation, while ‘sweet, in a straight, liberal, naïve way,’ ‘ignore[es] the political implications’ of the ‘unfortunate reality that is our culture.'” (p118)

I like these ideas – and I did think of Dare Truth or Promise, by Paula Boock. It’s not a book I’m likely to analyse, but I didn’t want to lose these ideas just yet…

Ref: Richard Flynn (2008) ‘Boundary issues’ (editorial) Children’s Literature Association Quarterly pp117-118

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