Girl in Progress: Navigating the Mortal Coils of Growing Up in the Fiction of Jacqueline Wilson
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
The following presents a discussion of the work of children’s and young adult novelist, Jacqueline Wilson. My focus is on Wilson’s treatment of issues that are quite pertinent to growing up and growing up as a girl in particular. Each chapter looks at a specific novel, considering Wilson’s representations of such issues as self-harm, eating disorders, and parental mental illness. In doing so, I will approach my subjects from various perspectives, drawing on theory from strands of psychoanalysis, post-structuralism, and feminism among others. In doing so I hope to prove the worth of Wilson’s work for future critical study (at this stage there has been little written specifically on this author). An interest of mine is the presence of ideology in children’s and young adult literature (a certain pedagogy that primarily serves the interests of adults). In discussing the ways in which Wilson presents the above issues, I consider ways in which her work may be seen to subvert such ideologies while still maintaining a sense of responsibility regarding the ability of narratives to influence young audiences. As such, part of my discussion will consist of an analysis of what has been termed by such writers as Melissa Wilson and Kathy Short, and David Elkind as a “postmodern childhood.” One in which children must navigate a problematic and less than ideal adult world and in which a developmental endpoint is never certain.