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Developing a Critical Framework for Analysing Gender in Children's Literature (Katharina Wilhelm)

Date: 27 November 2013 Time: 2.00 - 3.30 pm

Venue: Bowland N SR 14

My goal is to develop a framework that enables claims to be made about 'sex-differential tendencies' in the presentation of characters' involvement in action. In order for these claims to be supported by empirical evidence, the framework's categorization system has to be able to account for any and all narrative and visual presentations. Drawing on work in multimodal CDA, such as van Leeuwen's (2008) social actor and action networks, as well as going back to foundational work in Systemic Functional Grammar and related work in Semantics, I have identified and defined seven types of processes and five types of participants. I am currently refining these definitions and addressing some issues that I have encountered during the pilot study. Herein, I draw particularly on work in cognitive stylistics.

In this talk I will present my definitions and illustrate them with examples from the narrative and images in The Railway Children and The Canterville Ghost - as retold in Usborne Illustrated Classics for Girls and Usborne Illustrated Classics for Boys respectively (both published in 2008). These are the two stories to which I applied my framework in the pilot study. Then, I will briefly present the quantitative results of the pilot.

I believe that my framework can in principle be used to discover other differential tendencies. That is, instead of totalling the number of instances of each type of process and participant by sex of the person involved, one could do so by ethnicity, sexuality or any other differentiation of people salient in one's culture. In addition, the framework may be applied to non-fiction as well as fiction, but I have developed it especially to be able to deal with the latter.

Keywords: agency, discursive construction of gender, multimodal CDA, social action, social actors, stylistics

All welcome


Who can attend: Anyone


Further information

Organising departments and research centres: Linguistics and English Language


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Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Lancaster University
Lancaster LA1 4YD
United Kingdom

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