What Words Can Do: Analyzing Adult/Child Relations in Narratives of Literature and Psychosocial Theory
Angus, Lucille Kathleen
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This thesis enters into an analysis of adult/child relations by looking closely at affective social and historical representations of childhood. It asks, how to characterize the self-other relation when the subject is a child. This work is composed of thematic close readings of three primary texts: Piera Aulagnier (2001) introduces the child as being, Jacqueline Rose (1992) presents the enigmatic child, and Carolyn Steedman (1994) traces the spectacle of the child. This thesis grapples with the being of the child, beginning by exploring infancy as a state of dependency that marks growth. I examine the child’s vulnerability that precedes speech and discuss how imperceptible traces of that state intersect with the child’s introduction to symbolization and the words adults use to represent childhood. I turn to examine forms of childhood shaped through fantastical, cultural and historical narratives, questioning the place of the child and adult within those representations.