University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

Voracious Appetites: the Construction of 'Fatness' in Children's Literature

Webb, Jean ORCID: (2008) Voracious Appetites: the Construction of 'Fatness' in Children's Literature. In: Critical Approaches to Food in Children's Literature. Children's literature and culture; 59 . Routledge, London, pp. 105-121. ISBN 0415963664

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Analysis and discussion of the construction of the fat child in 19th and 20th century English children's fiction.
The chapter is a discussion and outline of the literary depiction of physical dimension in English children's literature from an historical perspective. In the nineteenth century, Muscular Christianity was a major influence on the construction of the hero in children's literature establishing the strong athletic heroic image as a desirable role model, for example, Tom in Thomas Hughes' Tom Brown's Schooldays (1857). In parallel, the image of the sedentary obese child developed as an opposition, being the butt of bullying and a figure of fun, e.g. Billy Bunter (Richards, 1908).Such constructions persist to the present day, e.g. Dudley Dursley in J.K.Rowling's Harry Potter stories is overweight, unattractive and represents negative social and moral values. With the problems of obesity in contemporary Western culture, to a certain extent a 'revisionist' approach is being adopted in novels for teenagers to confront this 'disease' of affluence.

Item Type: Book Section
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Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: children's literature, obesity, childhood, heroism, hero, food, appetites, western culture
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PZ Childrens literature
P Language and Literature > PE English
Divisions: College of Arts, Humanities and Education > School of Humanities
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Depositing User: Jean Webb
Date Deposited: 04 Mar 2009 09:55
Last Modified: 17 Jun 2020 16:50

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