Animals in Young Adult Fiction (Scarecrow Studies in Young Adult Literature)
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The underlying problem, of course, is that there are so few writers who are willing to talk to teenagers about God, even indirectly, or who themselves have the religious literacy for the task. In this volume, Patty Campbell examines not only realistic fiction, but young adult literature that deals with mysticism, apocalyptical end times, and even YA novels that depict the Divine Encounter.
Campbell maintains that fantasy works are inherently spiritual, because the plots nearly always progress toward a showdown between good and evil. As such, the author surmises that the popularity of fantasy among teens may represent their interest in the mystical dimensions of faith and the otherworldly. In this study, Campbell examines works of fiction that express perspectives from Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Sikhism. Distinguished YA novelist Chris Crowe provides a chapter on Mormon values and Mormon YA authors and how their novels integrate those values into their books.
By looking at how spirituality is represented in novels aimed at teens, this book asks what progress, if any, has been made in slaying the taboo. Although most of the books discussed in this study are recent, an appendix lists YA books from to the present that have dealt with issues of faith. A timely look at an important subject, Spirituality in Young Adult Literature will be of interest to young adult librarians, junior and senior high school teachers, and students and instructors of college courses in adolescent literature, as well as to parents of teens. Series: Studies in Young Adult Literature.
As YA specialist Campbell rightly asserts, spirituality is largely missing in the young adult literature published by the major U.
She also notes the inherent interest that teens have about spiritual matters, mentioning how fantasy often deals with issues of good versus evil. There are chapters sorted by organized religions, but Campbell realizes that spirituality is a larger concept. To that end, the book includes chapters that discuss books addressing death and the afterlife but not zombies , end times and Apocalypse, mysticism, and the 'divine encounter.
The vast majority of YA literature covered is Christian and Protestant. Use the link below to share a full-text version of this article with your friends and colleagues. Learn more. The study of information science and technology has expanded over the years to include more kinds of people, more kinds of behavior, more methods, and a broader inclusion of fields. There is at least one area, however, where very few information studies scholars have tread: entertainment, particularly fiction. Yet many fields indicate that information studies should consider fiction.
In this paper, we discuss how fiction is an informative genre and reasons why information studies scholars have mostly ignored fiction. We also identify potential research directions for studying fiction. In the study of what we now call human information behavior, we can identify four fundamental changes in the past century and a half.
Each of these changes expanded the phenomenon of information behavior. As is common see, e. The first shift to note was an expansion in the kinds of persons studied. The second major shift was a concomitant change in the kinds of information behavior studied , expanding from scientific and professional work as noted above, to everyday information behavior e.
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A related third change has occurred in the research methods used to study information behavior , expanding from survey protocols and increasingly complex counts to using more sophisticated statistical and analytic methods e. A fourth shift has been the expansion of fields interested in and providing expertise to the study information behavior. In recent decades, however, many more fields have made substantial contributions to our understanding of people and their information behavior than ever before, e. Despite these and other expansions in the research area of information behavior, however, serious research attention to the potential role of fiction as an informative genre is rare in information studies.
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At the same time, many other fields have investigated how it is that fiction is informative. The next section of the paper identifies some of that work and its implications for information studies' engagement with fiction. The definitions of information are too numerous and complex to do justice to in this paper Case, , has an excellent overview of some. Scholars in a variety of fields including philosophy, literary studies, psychology, as well as entertainment and education have argued that fiction makes some difference to people who read it.
Philosophers, at least since the days of Aristotle if not earlier Belfiore, , have claimed that fiction provides a place for both author and reader to explore morals, ethics, and values. Modern philosophers continue to discuss fiction as an avenue for value exploration. Currie, for example, argues that by projecting ourselves into fictional characters and scenarios, we learn about real consequences Other philosophers explore variations on this theme, such as Paskins' discussion of emotion and fiction, and Galgut's exposition of our absorption in stories A clear theme is that fiction readers and authors are doing the work of making values.
Scholarly conversations, political discussions, popular media, and library guidelines all include vehement arguments about censorship of, influence by, and appropriate use of fiction. The research in philosophy summarized above suggests that fiction adds to and changes people's values.
If these philosophers are right, and fiction plays a role in influencing, building, and changing values, then is reading fiction an information behavior? Returning to Bates' definition, perhaps reading fiction is an information behavior only if values are a kind of knowledge. Values may have little or no relation to our Western understanding of facts , but surely our values change our practical attitudes and understanding.
Literary scholars have investigated the meanings and influences of literature from studies of folklore to studies of modern romance fiction. The formation of boundaries through reading fiction occurs through an interaction by which readers sometimes accept social norms i. Sometimes reading fiction is an interaction through which readers contest those boundaries or norms.
In part, Radway identifies a romance novel's mythic ending as a story archetype that both conforms to often unrealistic ideals while also allowing some readers to combat societal norms.
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Literary scholars, Carroll and Cohen explore the idea of both conforming and combating when he discusses the paradox of violent horror and stresses that readers enjoy reading about violence not out of perversion, but because it is a relatively safe place to test and contest normal scenarios and problems. Both Finders and Buckingham confirm that fiction is related to the formation of social norms.
It would not be accurate to say, however, that modern literary scholars claim that fiction causes particular effects. Both Finders and Buckingham stress the active role of the reader rather than supporting a simple, deterministic view of effects. Rather, we should say that fiction serves as a place where people perform complex and even opposing interactions: both confirming and contesting. Finders' work reveals especially how girls form social identities through reading, while the essays in Buckingham demonstrate that even young readers are not passive consumers of fiction, but rather actively use fictional works to socialize, question, and accept.
He meant that all art and he writes particularly about fiction attempts to persuade its reader of some point of view. A close look at the research shows that fiction does not always succeed as authors intend , but that fiction does have some influence nonetheless. According to these literary scholars, fiction particularly gives readers a way to make sense of social norms, and, through that understanding, fiction also provides a means of resistance to those social norms Radway, , p. If literary scholars are right, and fiction plays a role in influencing, building, or changing social norms, then is reading fiction an information behavior?
Again returning to Bates, perhaps reading fiction is an information behavior only if social norms can be seen as a kind of knowledge. Surely social norms influence attitudes and behavior. Does that make interactions involving social norms interactions with information? In psychology and cognitive psychology, researchers see reading fiction as part of our evolutionary behavior that necessitates art and socialization e.
Authors in psychology claim that reading fiction develops a stronger theory of mind, that is, readers' ability to better understand the minds of others. Oatley also explores this theory and finds that reading fiction of any type increases the empathy and altruism of readers, and identifies this increase as a socially valuable evolutionary behavior.
This psychological research continues to support the general theories of philosophy and literary studies to confirm that readers sometimes change their attitudes and ideas. Researchers in psychology, unsurprisingly, focus on empathy and the mind where philosophers focus on values and literary theorists on social norms. We must say again that if empathy can be seen as a kind of knowledge , then perhaps the answer would be yes. Are interactions related to empathy interactions with information?
In perhaps the most obviously identifiable relationship for information and fiction, the fields of entertainment and education often overlap in discussing how fiction teaches readers about the world. According to these scholars, fiction can be a useful venue to educate people. Krashen presents arguments in his book that assert that reading fiction teaches language, cognitive skills, and writing.
Others claim that fiction is a good way to teach readers practical topics such as health and hygiene, geography, and history see Singhal, Still other media scholars have argued that entertainment is an essential aspect of learning through play e.
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The research from other fields show the usefulness of interacting with fiction as an opportunity for changing minds and attitudes, possibly about facts, but about other types of things as well. Before we can answer the four questions concluding each subsection that we posed above, it is important to note that recently, perhaps as part of the general trends noted above to expand what we regard as information behavior, more information studies scholars have begun to investigate fiction. Rothbauer, on the other hand, specifically explored how people form identities through reading fiction Usually, however, scholars of information and recently those of information behavior have focused on areas other than fiction, and some maintain that fiction is outside the purview of information study entirely.
Our answers to these questions will likely depend on our definitions of knowledge itself.
Whether the interactions are the same or not, it will be useful for us to investigate fiction and its range of influences simply because people read it, and are influenced in a variety of ways by it.