Engaging escapism: narration and persuasion in young adult fantasy fiction
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 14:04 authored by Lindsey Alexandra Hodder
Literary critics and educational theorists frequently dismiss escapist fantasy as frivolous, having little value for adolescent socialisation. Yet contemporary young adult fiction possesses a thematic depth and ideological complexity that appeals to readers and can influence their world views. This thesis challenges negative evaluations of contemporary young adult ‘escapist’ novels, exploring the functions and effects of heavily character focalised narration to demonstrate immersive and formative value. Analysing defining qualities and functions of narrative techniques used to construct engaging narration, this thesis examines the complex themes and ideological debates they convey. To valorise the appeal of escapism, the thesis argues that the distinctive characteristics that engage readers also allow the didactic functions of the genre to be achieved. To explore this relationship between appeal and benefit, the thesis analyses closely focalised ‘engaging’ narration, otherworld settings and characterisation in Tamora Pierce’s Terrier, Lauren Oliver’s Delirium, Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan and Cornelia Funke’s Inkdeath. The thesis posits that narrative technique is directly related to reader engagement; fostering close character reader sympathies that encourage readers to become immersed and, hence, susceptible to ideological persuasion. Textual analysis will also demonstrate how this genre can articulate complex thematic concerns with subject formation and offer readers subject positions from which to critique the ideological structures that ground them.