Literary classics, consumer culture, and Chinese children’s educational book market: material parameters and thematic adaptations in new curricular editions of Robinson Crusoe
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Children’s books are inevitably commercialized products in modern consumer society. Apart from having the more recognized mission to meet literary and educational requirements, the production and consumption of children’s books are also profoundly influenced and shaped by the spirit and material condition of consumer culture. This paper discusses the consumer attributes of the transformation undergone by Robinson Crusoe in the Chinese educational book market when the novel is adapted into new curricular editions for Chinese pupils in their after-class reading. It explores how consumer culture shapes the adaptation and turns this eighteenth-century English novel into a commodified literary and educational text from the material perspective of its planning and marketing which exploit the opportunities brought by the curriculum reform, the paratextual perspective of its cover design to better suit the electronic screen in the online purchasing environment, and the textual perspective of its adaptations in plot and style to meet the Chinese readers’ hermeneutic expectations. It reveals a Chinese consumer culture that seizes the opportunity brought by the curriculum reform and turns an English classic into a desirable commodity to arouse and manipulate the purchasing desire of parents by catering for the curricular requirements and educational expectations.
KeywordsConsumer culture Literary adaptation for children Robinson Crusoe Curriculum reform
Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China (CN) Humanities and Social Sciences Foundation (17YJC752009).
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