Dire consequences?: the development of futuristic fiction as a genre for young readers

Sambell, Kay (2008) Dire consequences?: the development of futuristic fiction as a genre for young readers. In: Hornby, Susan and Glass, Bob, (eds.) Reader development in practice: bringing literature to readers. Facet, London, UK, pp. 121-136. Full text not available from this repository.

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.29085/9781856049962

Abstract

Editors’ preface:
Tacit theories about childhood and youth are a crucial but challenging area with which professionals working with and for young people routinely engage. This chapter will enable professionals to consider their own values, attitudes and assumptions about the varying views of childhood, youth and literacy that underpin the emergence of a bleak, dystopian literature for young readers. The genre and its critical reception foregrounds and frequently calls into question some stock assumptions adults often hold about the nature of childhood and about young readers as a group. In this way it acts as a useful springboard for thinking about approaches to professional practice.

Introduction:
When I first studied authors’ use of future fictional time in the mid-1990s, I discovered, rather to my surprise, that it was much easier to find evidence of fears for the future of our young within children's literature and its criticism, than it was to find examples of the various anodyne futures that were envisaged by the social theorists of the time (Frankel, 1987). Writers of, and commentators on, books for the young tended to believe that technological ‘progress’ was more likely to result in harm, and to undermine traditionally cherished human values, than to become a benign force. As a rule distress about the future appeared to make the idea of a literary utopia seem like a naïve dream, and a dark dystopian literature for teenagers emerged. Since then, the immense popularity of this genre shows little sign of abating, and the list of titles produced steadily lengthens each year, although, as I will suggest by the end of the chapter, it has recently begun to develop in new ways, becoming increasingly adventurous, richly textured and experimental. It is particularly noteworthy that futuristic fiction for young readers has emerged in the context of deep public anxiety about growing up. Quite simply, this genre articulates deep-seated fears about the world – what it has become and what that might imply for the future of childhood and adolescence. It reveals considerable evidence of a growing sense of an imagined historical crisis of unprecedented proportions. Moreover, the fact that so many writers not only feel fearful about the future but also seek to engage young readers with their daunting, often horrifying speculations itself offers insight into dominant discourses about childhood and youth.

Item Type: Book Section
Publisher: Facet
ISBN: 9781856046244
Departments: Non-Initial Teacher Education (Non-ITE)
Additional Information: Chapter 7 within book.
Depositing User: Anna Lupton
Date Deposited: 18 Apr 2019 09:33
Last Modified: 18 Apr 2019 09:33
URI: http://insight.cumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/4634

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