The contemporary Gothic: Literacy and childhood in unsettled times

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Abstract

This paper argues that the revival of the Gothic as an expression of contemporary tensions and issues has significance for our views of childhood and, as a consequence, for literacy and literacy education. While the ways in which Gothic literature and other Gothic popular culture forms are used to speak to these tensions have shifted across time and place, they have, regardless, proved an enduring forum for the articulation of uncomfortable issues and anxieties. Constructions of childhood and the world in which children live are positioned within these larger social, economic and political currents and, more specifically, are cornerstones of perceptions of literacy, education and the literate citizen’s identity. It is from this stance that this paper examines the seepage of the Gothic into popular culture for children. The paper begins by acknowledging the significance of the contemporary Gothic and then moves on to consider how deeply the Gothic has seeped into popular culture, by examining a range of Gothic toys. If the contemporary Gothic revival is a marker of anxiety around identity, trust, authenticity and, to some extent, childhood itself, then how does this impact on the kinds of literate practices and moral economies associated with children? The paper explores this question.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)293-310
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Early Childhood Literacy
Volume12
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2012

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