Studies in Literature, Film and New Media
Edited By Anna Kędra-Kardela and Andrzej Sławomir Kowalczyk
CHAPTER NINE: Ghosts and Their Stories in Children’s Fiction
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Ghosts and Their Stories in Children’s Fiction
The Gothic mode informs many phenomena in children’s literature and culture—which is amply testified by the popularity of wizards, vampires and monsters among young people today. The claim that “in children’s literature today, the Gothic is mainstream” seems entirely justified (Jackson et al. 2009: 1). In its long history the Gothic has developed such a variety of conventions that it does not appear feasible to consider it as a unified genre but seems much more practicable to treat it as a rather heterogeneous suprageneological category or mode which, owing to its popularity, spreads its features throughout many literary texts and other cultural phenomena, such as films, games, music, or fashions.1
The current popularity of the Gothic mode in fiction for the young readers—though not unanimously commended—is viewed as related to the anxieties of growing up and to coping with the uncertainties of contemporary life with its fast changes, multiple dangers and concomitant disorientation (McGillis 2009: 228-231). Gothic elements may be seen as performing the double role of expressing certain individual and cultural traumas on the one hand and of helping to deal with them on the other (Coats 2009: 75-80).
Out of the vast array of Gothic patterns abundantly present in contemporary texts for children, I intend to focus on the character of a ghost, one of the genre markers of the...
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