University of Tasmania

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Reading Indigeneity in Children's Literature: What are the implications?

posted on 2023-05-26, 22:12 authored by Hitchcock, LA
The influence of children's literature on the lives of children is well documented and this important resource provides educators with a means to enrich students' lives. Literature can provide not only pleasurable experiences for students but contribute significantly to their cognitive, social, cultural, and emotional development. The importance for teachers to be cognisant of the effects the literature they present to students is considerable, and because of Australia's colonial past and the lingering effects of being a settler society the Indigenous representations in children's literature are of particular significance. This research project's aim was to reveal the implications for education of Indigenous identities constructed in children's literature. Indigenous representations in children's literature have been critically evaluated in previous work completed in this field. However, this study's had a different approach than in previous work as the implications of Indigenous identities for education was the focus and the other difference was the use of postcolonial literary criticism along with critical multimodal discourse analysis to examine picture books. This enabled a critical evaluation of the three Indigenous picture books language and image choices to reveal the texts' underlying ideological systems. The critical evaluation was underpinned by the themes revealed as significant from the literature review which included, a discourse of 'othering', monolithic Indigenous representations, the valuing of Indigenous cultures, and essentialised representations of Indigeneity, which were all found to be meaningful in the texts. The study answered the question and revealed the implications for education are significant as teachers need to be critically aware of the representations of Indigeneity to ensure that teachers present Indigenous literature that develops students' appreciation and awareness of Indigeneity in its multiplicity so they can contribute to the development of Australia. The findings that are significant for the field include: essentialised, monolithic and 'othered' Indigenous representations that were revealed in the non-Indigenous constructed texts; Langton's (1993) Indigenous textual construction categories were confirmed by the research; the common practice of using a non-Indigenous focaliser by non-Indigenous authors to navigate Indigenous cultures and the potential effects of this on Indigenous identities in children's literature was a new idea for the field; and stereotypical depictions of Indigenous females common in non-Indigenous textual constructions that have been identified in other work was supported by the study.


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Honours dissertation

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  • Unpublished

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Copyright 2014 the Author

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