Alice's Academy

Caroline Jones, editor

Editor's Introduction

Caroline Jones

In this issue of “Alice’s Academy” we explore two areas of marginalization in children’s and adolescent literature: first, Brooke Collins-Gearing’s and Dianne Osland’s surfacing of the sub-texts of colonization in John Marsden and Shaun Tan’s The Rabbits (1998), and second, Jennifer Miskec’s and Katherine Schmidt’s exploration of Catholicism in contemporary young adult fiction. 

Collins-Gearing and Osland consider The Rabbits within the framework of what TLG editor David Beagley suggests is the most influential legal decision in the last twenty years in defining the rights of indigenous persons in post-colonial Australia. The High Court decision is popularly known as the Mabo Decision, after the key plaintiff, Eddie Mabo, a traditional landholder. The case he brought against the State of Queensland challenged the 19th century colonial view that Australia (similarly to many other colonised places around the world) was “terra nullius”, or belonged to no-one, and established a legal basis for native title and cultural recognition. Terms like pre-Mabo and post-Mabo have entered the local lexicon in Australia, but will likely be unfamiliar to non-Australian readers.  The article, “Who Will Save Us from the Rabbits: Rewriting the Past Allegorically,” interrogates common readings of the text as progressive, citing powerful passive ideologies of defeat and victimization underlying the surface message deploring colonization of indigenous populations.  While their piece almost pre-supposes an adult audience, they create a space for exploration of this powerful and controversial text with children.

Miskec and Schmidt confront a different type of marginalization in their article, “Catholicism in YA Literature: A Theological Perspective.”  Rather than looking at a marginalized part of society, they explore a marginalized topic within popular contemporary fiction: religion, specifically Catholicism.  Their sensitive analyses of three novels which not only address, but also embrace, Catholic characters and theology, offer a starting point for what will undoubtedly become a lively, rich, and ongoing discussion of matters of religion, theology, and spirituality within children’s and teens’ literature and culture.

Volume 14, Issue 2, The Looking Glass May/June, 2010

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The Looking Glass: new perspectives on children's literature

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