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The Construction of (Racialised) Author and Reader Identities

  • Melanie Ramdarshan Bold
Chapter

Abstract

Anglo-American book publishing reflects the structural inequalities and uneven distribution of power within society: this social—‘racial’ and ethnic—stratification can impact various groups of people. The absence of diverse characters in children’s and young adult literature can influence how readers form their identity, and/or shape their perceptions of others, in relation to the world around them. Ramdarshan Bold explores how the lack of representative characters and authors of colour in children’s and YA books impacts the reader and author identities. Drawing upon original data, from interviews with a sample of British YA authors of colour, Ramdarshan Bold will explore how YA authors of colour are creating counter-narratives that challenge dominant perspectives and stereotypes. There is currently a lack of books that reflect the changing nature of Britain and challenge the notion of a fixed/singular British identity. Through interviews, this programme will investigate the childhood/adolescent reading practices of UKYA authors with a particular focus on the lack of diverse books, and whether this influenced their own writing and authorial identity. UKYA authors of colour challenge the perception of what it means to be British, and what British literature is. Canonical authors (commonly white/middle class/male) monopolise the definition of Britishness in the literature. Groskop described this type of Britishness as a ‘conservative cultural phenomena, which painfully reinforce outdated national stereotypes’. Many UKYA authors of colour are constructing their own notions of Britishness, to counter the unconscious manifestation of racism inherent in traditional constructions and to broaden the understanding of what it is to be British in the twenty-first century.

Keywords

Authorship Identity Authors Authors of colour Identity Britishness Nostalgia Racism Race UKYA Counter-narratives 

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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Melanie Ramdarshan Bold
    • 1
  1. 1.University College LondonLondonUK

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