The Looking Glass : New Perspectives on Children's Literature, Vol 16, No 2 (2012)

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Blurring the Boundaries: the changing i-Discourse of children's literature

David Beagley

Abstract


It is a truism to say that the internet is omnipresent and is changing how we communicate. This is as obvious in children's and YA literature as it is in all other areas of modern life. However, how and why particular forms of change take place need to be considered rather than just allowing the technology to direct the process, simply because it can. Change in the medium can change the nature of the communication, so both the purpose of the communication and the new medium must be examined to determine if the change actually achieves the purpose better.

The dominant form of online communication, because of Web 2.0, is now the conversation - fluid, dynamic and ongoing. However, our traditional concepts of the book, the author, the reader, and even the critical analysis, are defined as fixed and discrete artefacts that may interact but still maintain their individual roles and status. This therefore, creates an inherent contradiction when these artefacts move into the online conversations of blogs, fan-fiction and wikis.

This article suggests a conceptual framework to define how this change to a dynamic form of communication might affect traditional forms of judgement such as an author's ownership of a story, or the academic authority of a critical analysis. Drawing on Bakhtin, Habermas and McLuhan, it argues that the conversation must be embraced or the traditional fixed roles may be made irrelevant or even redundant.

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The Looking Glass: new perspectives on children's literature

ISBN 1551-5680