Language and Control in Children's Literature

By Murray Knowles; Kirsten Malmkjær | Go to book overview

2

Literature as a carrier of ideology: children’s literature and control

THE IDEA OF IDEOLOGY

The term ideology was coined by Destutt de Tracy (1754-1836) to refer to ‘the radically empirical analysis of the human mind’ (Aiken, 1956:16). The emphasis on the mind remains in the twentieth-century tendency to link ideology with belief systems, political persuasions and the like, even though, in the twentieth century, analyses tend to be primarily socially orientated, and to take a distinctly linguistic turn.

In this book, too, we use the notion of ideology in linguistic analysis. However, we agree with Thompson (1984; 1990) that it is desirable to reserve for the term ideology a sense of its own, distinct from the senses attached to terms like belief system and political persuasion. In order to clarify the distinction between these senses and the sense in which the term is used here, it will be useful to provide a brief sketch of the evolution of ideological analysis.

Towards the end of the eighteenth century, western philosophers began to question the notion of an independent objective reality which could be examined and understood, if only the right method of examination and thinking were employed. In the philosophy of Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), the human mind—reason—was given a crucial role in our perception of the world. The world existed as a thing in itself, irrespectively of how humans might perceive it, but it was no longer considered available for inspection by humans in its pure form. The human mind had its own structure which crucially influenced the way in which humans understood and interpreted the world.

Kant, however, believed that human reason was a constant: all humans were rational, so the world as perceived by humans, although it might not be the world as it actually was, was at least

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Language and Control in Children's Literature
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgements xi
  • 1 - Children’s Literature in England 1
  • 2 - Literature as a Carrier of Ideology: Children’s Literature and Control 41
  • 3 - Traditional Juvenile Fiction 81
  • 4 - Today’s Young Reader 114
  • 5 - The Fairytale 156
  • 6 - Fantasy Fiction 224
  • 7 - Last Thoughts 262
  • References 267
  • Index 276
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