University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

Betwixt and Between: Pubescent Liminality and Contested Places in Fiction for Young People.

Bigger, Stephen (2010) Betwixt and Between: Pubescent Liminality and Contested Places in Fiction for Young People. Barnboken: Journal of Children's Literature Research. pp. 1-10. (Submitted)

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Fiction for young people is targeted at readers crossing the line between childhood and young adulthood. Stories aimed at these readers depict the in-between state where young characters perform mature courageous deeds (whilst adult characters may do childish things). The transition between childhood and adulthood has been termed liminal (Victor Turner) demonstrating a transitional journey from one state to the other. This article will apply Turner’s thesis of liminality and community building (communitas) to fiction for young people that has relevance to ideas of nature and place, viewing story as a threshold or portal to meaning. I survey some twentieth century writers’ approaches, ending with three twenty-first century examples, exploring how writers handle the concepts of natural/supernatural, ecology, and ethics of place. I explore the extent to which story scaffolds growing up to young adulthood. Victor Turner also applied liminality to theatre and performance, to betwixt and between ideas and mental states, topsy-turvy reversal-of-status ritual/carnival which makes good performances so powerful and potentially life changing. Books are performances: books in one culture are performed stories in others, and some books become films or theatre plays.

The stories selected reflect place as contested, emphasising the needs of humans and animals, and giving value to sharing and respect rather than greed. This article views this liminality as potentially educational, helping to change attitudes to nature, place and the environment through imaginative and playful means. Examples are the use of folklore, myth, adventure, mystery and cooperative activities. I raise as an issue whether ‘fantistical’ elements (Toderov 1973 – i.e. magic, myth, the supernatural) are helpful or hindrances to learning and understanding about nature, place and environment.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information:

Submitted draft of the journal article.

Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: ecology, nature, adolescence, growing up, understanding of place, the fantastic.
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PZ Childrens literature
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
L Education > L Education (General)
Divisions: College of Arts, Humanities and Education > School of Education
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Stephen Bigger
Date Deposited: 11 Jun 2010 05:34
Last Modified: 08 Jun 2021 09:24

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