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Critical Youth Studies Reader

Preface by Paul Willis

Edited By Awad Ibrahim and Shirley R. Steinberg

This book won the 2014 AESA (American Educational Studies Association) Critics Choice Award.

This reader begins a conversation about the many aspects of critical youth studies. Chapters in this volume consider essential issues such as class, gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, cultural capital, and schooling in creating a dialogue about and a conversation with youth. In a society that continues to devalue, demonize, and pathologize young women and men, leading names in the academy and youth communities argue that traditional studies of youth do not consider young people themselves. Engaging with today’s young adults in formal and informal pedagogical settings as an act of respect, social justice, and transgression creates a critical pedagogical path in which to establish a meaningful twenty-first century critical youth studies.
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25 Surprising Representations of Youth in Saved! and Loving Annabelle

← 303 | 304 →CHAPTER 25



The lived experiences of teachers and learners are often represented in films. Nevertheless, even though there are more than one thousand (mostly Hollywood produced) films about schools and teachers and learners, education scholars have paid little attention to the narrative depictions of educators and youth in films. Informed by arts-based research, cultural studies, and critical pedagogy, we examine how two films focused on narratives of school experiences contribute to representations of youth. We discuss the films, Saved! (Dannelly, 2004) and Loving Annabelle (Brooks, 2006), with a focus on how understandings of diversity are constructed, constrained, and challenged, especially regarding issues of gender, sexuality, bodies, spirituality and morality, and queer studies.

It is surprising that film study is not a more integral part of research in education. In our university a few years ago, a former associate dean with responsibility for research dismissed popular films as having no value for education research. We are glad to note that at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) in April, 2013, there was an inaugural film festival. While the focus was mostly on documentary films, the AERA film festival is a clear indication of the growing enthusiasm for researching experiences of education in film.

One of the most useful books about films and schools is Mary Dalton’s (2004) The Hollywood Curriculum. As Dalton (2004) noted, “we borrow from the stories of the films we see to help us create ourselves as characters and...

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