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Constructions of the Fat Child in British Juvenile Fiction (1960-2010)

Flynn, Kate (2013) Constructions of the Fat Child in British Juvenile Fiction (1960-2010). PhD thesis, University of Worcester.

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Abstract

This literary study is an analysis of fat child characters in British juvenile fiction, 1960 to 2010. The argument is that juvenile fiction, with growing frequency, has advanced lay psychological explanations for departures from a culturally sanctioned slender ideal. Detailing the socio-historical basis for changing literary constructions of the fat child comprises an original contribution to knowledge. Protagonists and peripheral characters from eighty-five examples of juvenile fiction are critiqued. At the start of the period, the majority of texts associate fatness with moral failings. By the middle of the period, fatness is predominantly associated with poor emotional health. This association persists until the period’s close, becoming entwined in the final decade with the increasing use of references to body fat as a means of demarcating the child’s position within commodity and celebrity cultures. No text foregrounds associations between fatness and physical health problems. Transitions from one dominant construction of fatness to another are accompanied by changes in how fat characters are gendered, classed and racialised. Issues of Jackie magazine (1964-1994) and contemporaneous psychological abstracts are examined as contextual material. The study concludes that discontinuities in constructions of the fat child express historically specific fears of social, economic, or political transformation in Britain. How child readers might comply with or rework literary constructions of the fat child is suggested as a topic for further research.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information:

A thesis submitted in fulfilment of the University's requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

Uncontrolled Keywords: children's literature, British juvenile fiction, fatness, fat child
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PZ Childrens literature
Divisions: Academic Departments > Institute of Humanities and Creative Arts
Depositing User: Janet Davidson
Date Deposited: 21 Nov 2013 14:54
Last Modified: 12 Mar 2015 08:47
URI: https://eprints.worc.ac.uk/id/eprint/2739

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