TLG 10.1 Introduction

Frame of Reference


Jane Goldstein

Originally the plan was to have magic realism as the focus for Alice's Academy in this issue. Because of our special tribute to Sheila Egoff in September 2005 we now include some articles that had been intended for that issue. As a result, this entire issue contains refereed articles in an expanded column of Alice's Academy. While magic realism is a focus, all five articles connect in a variety of ways for the provocative reading of several shared themes.

Don Latham opens the discussion by first clearly defining what the term magic realism includes and what its boundaries are. Using the characteristics of magic realism as outlined by Wendy B. Faris, Latham then explains how they can be applied to a reading of David Almond's Skellig.

At first glance Maria Edgeworth's story Murad the Unlucky is simply another discussion of colonialism and didactic ideas expressed in literature for children. Colleen Booker goes beyond those ideas to point out how the magic of the adventurous life of the protagonist Murad contrasts with the prudent life of his brother Saladin. Skillful interpretations of magic can also give insights to the real worlds of both of the story's characters.

In first looking at various critical theories, Jes Battis restates some stereotypical roles given to some well-known characters in fairy tales. Battis then moves beyond a discussion of these strict and often culturally imposed gender roles to look at the variety of ways real magic allows those characters to move beyond into more freely interpreted actions. This paper raises many innovative interpretations to consider. Do not miss this one!

Gender continues as a theme in Annette Wannamaker's discussion of Harry Potter characters. As she points out, much has already been said on this topic as it applies to that particular series of books. Wannamaker looks at the contradictions of the complex and culturally motivated ideas of gender and highlights that "space" where the child reader has some freedom to interpret the roles in the stories of the well known series.

J.K. Rowling has woven thoughts of racial prejudice and pursuit of racial purity throughout the magical world of her Harry Potter characters. Lana Whited examines how events in history and racial tensions develop in a world that is just beyond reality.

As always, we encourage you to look at our postings of announcements and paper calls at the conclusion of this edition.

Editorially yours,

Jane Goldstein

Volume 10, Issue 1 The Looking Glass, January, 2006

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The Looking Glass: new perspectives on children's literature

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