Mousaion - Volume 29, Issue 3, 2011
Volumes & issues
Volume 29, Issue 3, 2011
When love shows itself as cruelty : the role of the fairy tale stepmother in the development of the under-aged readerAuthor Gerda-Elisabeth WittmannSource: Mousaion 29, pp 1 –11 (2011)More Less
Stemming from the competition between the stepmother and the child for the husband/father's affection, the stepmother is stigmatised as the villain in fairy tales. When considering the stepmother-child relationship, it becomes apparent that even though the stepmother is usually associated with jealousy and cruelty, her character is two-sided. While she has subversive intentions, her actions lead the protagonist to identify and strengthen his/her best qualities.
It seems unacceptable to the reader that a natural mother would treat her child with the cruelty that the stepmother does in fairy tales, subjecting the child to the dangers and perils of the outside world. This article argues that the stepmother's portrayal in fairy tales can, with the help of psychoanalytical readings, be interpreted as a catalyst to enable the process of the child's enforced emancipation from the mother.
The article analyses the roles ascribed in fairy tales to the mother and child figures and the roles they play in the development of under-aged recipients. The behaviour of mothers and stepmothers in fairy tales is analysed to show how they act in the child's best interest, aiding the child's emancipation from the mother.
Author Asma AyobSource: Mousaion 29, pp 12 –24 (2011)More Less
Illusions surface when the lines between myth and fantasy conflate. Through the notion of illusion, utopian novels are written in the indicative about the political subjunctive (Zipes 1994:119). In popular culture today, fairy tales are the medium through which people are submersed into flights of fantasy. More specifically, the film versions that are based on the written versions of the fairy tales magnify the experience between the spectator and the worlds that are created on screen. It is necessary to acknowledge that in this genre, which is dominated by its medievalist form, a certain amount of magic is taken for granted (Monson & Purves 1984:23). In the modern world, the notion of transnationalism as a driving force that propels the evolution and growth of characters in fairy tales is evident in the narrative structures of various fairy tale films.
In Disney's Enchanted (Lima 2007), the central character, Giselle, evolves and grows as a result of her displacement from her fairy tale home of Andalasia. The backdrop of this fairy tale allows for a "flight of fantasy". It is from within this "flight" that questions are raised and the relationship between transnationalism and the evolution of the protagonist can be critiqued and analysed. Ultimately, it is the illusion of displacement that paves the way for new knowledge and realisation.
Author Rachael Jesika SinghSource: Mousaion 29, pp 25 –40 (2011)More Less
Even before children can speak they are exposed to culture. In many cultures, stories are told to young children as part of the "growing up" process. In a country like South Africa, which is a melting pot of cultures and languages, a South African culture is slowly emerging. The purpose of this article is to examine the decline of cultural influence in stories told to young children. This will be done through an examination of the storytelling culture of three different cultural groups found in South Africa, namely African, Afrikaner and Indian cultures. This storytelling culture is juxtaposed against the stories told to the parents of these children when they were young. The emerging trends are then discussed. The data were collected using qualitative methods from three adults, one from each culture. The method of data collection employed was an open-ended interview. Questions were asked on the type of stories that respondents were exposed to as children and the type of stories they expose their children to, as well as, where relevant, reasons for the change in storytelling styles. The findings of this qualitative inquiry indicated that all the participants were told stories by their mothers and/or grandmothers in their respective cultures when they were young, which they still remember. Their children, however, are exposed to very few or no stories from their culture despite the fact that in two of the cultures, the language used in the home is still the same. These findings show a move away from traditional stories told in different cultures. The article concludes with recommendations for establishing a South African culture of storytelling by incorporating the concept of a "rainbow" culture in the stories that are told to young children; preserving cultural stories; parents and the school curriculum promoting the storytelling genre; and using an alternative "fireplace" around which to tell stories.
Author Franci GreylingSource: Mousaion 29, pp 41 –58 (2011)More Less
The training of creative writers in South Africa requires a programme that is able to address the country's complex cultural and linguistic composition. There is an increasing awareness of the importance of cultural and language identity and the need for a variety of children's literature in all languages. Although there are many talented storytellers in South Africa, there is still a need for new writers who can meet this demand. In this article the basic principles of teaching creative writing are set within the context of teaching creative writing for children, which can serve as a basis for tuition in diverse training contexts. The approach integrates identified principles derived from different theoretical paradigms on thoughts of literacy, creativity, creative writing and literary theory, combined with years of practical experience. Core principles identified are the consideration of the context, the primary means of cultural transference in a community, the complex dynamics of the creative process, the articulation of relevant content and the application of the principles in specific teaching and learning environments. These principles inform the general approach to the courses, the structuring thereof, and the selection of appropriate content. The approach is illustrated with reference to various courses and activities and South African children's literature.
Author Marguerite MacRobertSource: Mousaion 29, pp 59 –76 (2011)More Less
This article explores the question of how writers of children's fiction effectively bridge the gap between adult writer and child reader. As part of broader research on the creative writing process, four successful South African fiction authors participated in semi-structured interviews. One author, Lesley Beake, is a children's writer who publishes prolifically. While the writers have much in common, Beake stands out for her collaboration with child readers from the groups from which she draws her protagonists. It emerged that she has particular challenges when it comes to considering her readership which writers of adult fiction are less aware of, such as the respectful consideration of reading ability and vocabulary in second language and beginner readers. The article explores how Beake sets about successfully bridging not only the inevitable generation gap between writer and reader of children's fiction, but also gaps of race, culture and gender. It is argued that she achieves this in part through her belief in the universality of children's experience, built over years of teaching, writing and editing, and in part through her interactions with young people as she writes.
Author Henriette LoubserSource: Mousaion 29, pp 77 –92 (2011)More Less
"Masculinity studies" is an intellectual field both in dialogue with and in alliance with feminist theory (Gardiner 2002:ix). Male theory can be used to research ideological inscriptions and the literary results produced by the gender system. Hegemonic masculinity is a cultural construction of masculinity which implies authority, toughness, heterosexuality, braveness, being adventurous, assertive, strong and competitive and in possession of public knowledge. According to Deevia Bhana (2009), hegemonic masculinity allows for the explanation of the unbalanced nature of gender power relations where men and boys remain ascendant. But, she argues further, not all boys are the same. Hegemonic masculinity is socially constructed and influenced by different social processes whereby people interact in their daily life. Masculinities are not fixed but are inextricably linked to social context (Bhana 2009:329). This study used discourse analysis to investigate the ways in which text and image portray masculinity in three Afrikaans picture books for young children published in 1982, 1996 and 2009, respectively. Picture books can be seen as reflecting current social values and behaviour, constructing identities and offering them to children for them to aspire to (Wharton 2005:238). It was found that these three books show a sensitivity towards the changing discourse on masculinity and this more complex portrayal of masculinity is offered as an alternative to young readers.
Author Judith InggsSource: Mousaion 29, pp 93 –107 (2011)More Less
In The hidden star, Sello Duiker (2006) attempts to combine reality and fantasy in such a way that the fantastic becomes believable. But there is a fundamental contradiction at the heart of the novel. Has Duiker written a South African fantasy reflecting the reality of the environment in which it is set while also successfully incorporating the fantastic and the supernatural? The juxtaposition of the credible and incredible, and the fluidity between the two, may be regarded as a reflection of the oxymoronic nature of magical realism. However, the contradictions and inconsistencies in this novel inevitably undermine its success. The final message is one of failure and disillusionment, in which fantasy and reality are ultimately shown to be uneasy companions. Despite the initial message of hope, at the end of the narrative, Nolitye's life has not fundamentally changed. The grim reality of the township remains, and her reunion with her parents reinforces her vulnerability and dependence rather than contributing towards her growth and journey towards maturity and sense of individual identity.
Author Maurice Taonezvi VambeSource: Mousaion 29, pp 108 –126 (2011)More Less
The aim of this article is to explore the depiction of childhood in three African texts. Say you're one of them (2007), written by the Nigerian author Uwem Akpan, is used to illustrate the ideological challenges that arise when adult authors write for and about children. Children writing Zimbabwe (Magosvongwe, Chirere & Zondo 2008) and Silent cry: echoes of young Zimbabwe voices (Nyathi 2009) contain short stories written by child-authors from Zimbabwe. These two collections of short stories demonstrate how children who write about their lives affirm as well as contest the ways in which adult authors depict the lives of African children. The article argues that although Say you're one of them creates narratives of African childhood informed by the desire to critique the forces that exploit children in Africa, the text falls short of elaborating possible and alternative identities of children outside the image of victim. Although the child-authored texts may authorise an alternative image of childhood in African literature, the images so generated are not always entirely free from adult influences. This is important because the binary "adult" writer and "child-author", now common in criticism of children's literature, can be misleading. It can ascribe extraordinary capacity in child-authors to imagine new identities for children against the evidence to which it bears witness in the actual writing. This said, the article uses some stories by children to illustrate the dialogical imagination of children. Their stories in turn use the common image of children as victims of the adult and patriarchal society in order to clear space for depicting characters of children who question and destabilise society's entrenched views of children as inconsequential minors.
Upholding innovative models of manhood in Zimbabwean children's literature : an analysis of Kudakwashe Muzira's How Skinny became a heroAuthor Anna ChitandoSource: Mousaion 29, pp 127 –139 (2011)More Less
The theme of masculinity is receiving scholarly attention in different disciplines, including African literature. Literary analysts are expanding the notion of gender. They are investing energy to clarify how masculinity is portrayed in artistic works. However, this trend has not been extended to children's literature. This article focuses on efforts to encourage new models of manhood in Zimbabwean children's literature. It argues that the publication, How Skinny became a hero by Kudakwashe Muzira (2007) challenges popular images of a "real man". It projects a new version of masculinity that celebrates responsibility over mere strength. The article maintains that this new focus must be promoted as it will lead to better relationships between women and men.
Cultural relevance of children's books in Kenya : the case of Captured by raiders by Benjamin WegesaSource: Mousaion 29, pp 140 –153 (2011)More Less
Children's books have the power to act as important tools for passing on cultural practices of the specific societies within which they are written, and also as a window through which children can see cultures other than their own. This article looks at the representation of the cultural practices of the Tondo and Bukusu communities in Kenya in Benjamin Wegesa's Captured by raiders (1989). Specifically, I examine how Tondo practices, such as raiding, polygamy, tattooing and eating habits, are witnessed through the eyes of Nanjala, a young Bukusu girl, who is captured by Tondo raiders. Nanjala's life in Tondoland allows young readers to witness the Tondo culture and compare it to the Bukusu culture. Since certain African and specifically Kenyan cultural practices are fast disappearing, I argue that children's texts like Captured by raiders have a cultural relevance: through them young readers discover certain knowledge which may not be readily available in their life experiences. Literature for children, therefore, can be an important record of culture, and today's children should be encouraged to read such fictional texts based on societal ways of life.
Woman↔dragon : Ursula K. Le Guin's transformations in Tehanu, The Other Wind and Tales from EarthseaAuthor Deirdre ByrneSource: Mousaion 29, pp 154 –165 (2011)More Less
In this article, I explore Ursula K. Le Guin's representation of dragons in her later Earthsea fiction: Tehanu (1991), The other wind (2001b) and Tales from Earthsea (2001a). I argue that Le Guin engages transformatively with traditional depictions of dragons by linking them to women. While this is in keeping with earlier perspectives on dragons, in Le Guin's fiction the association becomes a source of power, rather than (à la Julia Kristeva 1982) abjection of the women whose lives are linked to dragon nature. All the same, the author does not sentimentalise either dragons or women, but uses transgressive porousness between them as signs in order to refigure both. The dragon, in Le Guin's writing, finds and reclaims hybridity and monstrosity rather than transcending them.
Contested spaces in Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little house in the big woods and Little house on the prairieAuthor Pat LouwSource: Mousaion 29, pp 166 –178 (2011)More Less
The Little house in the big woods (1932) and the Little house on the prairie (1935) are part of a series of children's books written by Laura Ingalls Wilder to document her family's journeys through different territories in America, trying to find a home. Little house on the prairie involves the family's move into the famed "Indian Territory" which becomes a contested space in postcolonial terms, involving the expected encounter with the indigenous "other". However, the traditional postcolonial spaces are not the only contested spaces in these books. Widening my analysis to include the nonhuman "other" in different forms, I use a spatial analysis within an ecocritical framework to show how wild and domestic spaces are held in balance through the narrative in a number of ways. These spaces serve as a basis for the construction of the child's sense of self and belonging.
'Give us all missionary eyes and missionary hearts' : triumphalism and missionising in late-Victorian children's literatureAuthor Margot HillelSource: Mousaion 29, pp 179 –192 (2011)More Less
Late-Victorian British children's literature celebrated the Empire and its perceived influence in civilising and Christianising the countries conquered by Britain. A key part of the influence was seen as the missionaries, who brought the benefits of both Christianity and British influence to the colonies. The inhabitants of those colonies were constructed as "savage" and "other" and children's support for the work of the missionaries was sought through their literature. In some instances, countries not directly within the Empire were depicted as in need of Christianising as a way of developing and modernising. This article examines the ways in which a number of texts published at the height of the British Empire sought to influence children's perceptions of foreign countries and the importance of the work of the missionaries.
Author Liam BorgstromSource: Mousaion 29, pp 193 –208 (2011)More Less
The rise of electronic publishing has seen the birth of new forms for content. Popular novels are already beginning to find a comfortable home with dedicated e-book devices, where the technology is suited to representing textual content in a comfortable way. However, with highly illustrated (and often interactive) children's books a new interface is needed. Not only in terms of dynamic input and display technologies, but in terms of that interaction that defines the way in which children read. The information age may see the creation of books in variable formats, with the intention of recreating the immersive nature of story-time.
Currently, with the impact (and penetration) of smart-phones (and recently tablet computers), new electronic reading platforms are increasingly being made available on the new idea of software as applications. This allows for the development of books not simply as visual and textual entities, but as operable tools which need not be limited to the idea of rich iPad applications. Titles can be adapted for Java-compliant mobile phones as well as via simple text systems. The idea should not be to create superb software, but rather stories that involve the young reader as much as a game would. By integrating the interactive nature of modern technologies with the story of the book, the reading experience can become more involving. It is through such efforts that children may be nurtured towards literacy, while staying in touch with technological advancements.
Die gebruik van grappe en raaisels in 'n leesbevorderingsprojek : 'n loodsstudie in die Wes- en OoskaapSource: Mousaion 29, pp 209 –226 (2011)More Less
This article documents a reading and writing promotion project amongst learners attending under-privileged schools with Afrikaans as medium of instruction in the West and Eastern Cape. The premise of this study was that reading and writing should be fun and that books created for children should be reader centred. Learners were asked to take part in a voluntary writing competition which entailed writing down a joke or a riddle. These were selected and compiled in an economically produced booklet that the learners could buy at a nominal price.
Feedback from both the learners and teachers at participating schools revealed the booklet to be a great success. Two main factors that contributed to this success were: participation, i.e. the fact that the readers were part of the project which empowered them and fostered a sense of self-worth; and the fact that they could identify with the book in terms of the language used and the circumstances portrayed in the book. The popularity of the book in terms of sales showed that even children with very little money will buy books that interest them.
As this was a pilot project, the long-term advantages of the project cannot be predicted. However, the immediate effect of the project was visibly positive and could provide guidelines for the planning of similar reading promotion projects in the future.
Author Sabelo ChizwinaSource: Mousaion 29, pp 227 –247 (2011)More Less
Reading promotion projects are important in that they promote access to reading and improve children's reading comprehension. The aim of this study was to answer the main research question: What are the characteristics of children's reading promotion projects in South Africa? An exploratory study was appropriate for this task, as it provided information on reading promotion projects in South Africa, which are largely uncharted. An inductive content analysis method was used. Relevant documents pertaining to the reading promotion projects were obtained and analysed. Fifty-two reading promotion projects were identified. The results indicate that non-governmental organisations (NGOs) play a leading role in children's reading promotion projects. The government plays a part but mostly through the Department of Education. The projects use a variety of methods to promote reading, the most common being book donations, which is used as a monomethod. Very few of the projects indicate their sustainability or provide evaluation indicators. The study concludes that the picture of reading promotion in South Africa is grim. The main cause of this is that support from the highest levels of government does not exist. Apart from the few government initiatives, which are neither well planned, funded nor executed, reading promotion has to rely on what may be termed "reading Samaritans" from the local and international NGOs and the private sector whose capacity to reach a wider audience is limited.
Author Renuka RamroopSource: Mousaion 29, pp 248 –265 (2011)More Less
In this dynamic age of the twenty-first century, raising children who will love reading is a huge challenge. While the world of technology has brought great advantages for society, it has eroded much of what was built up over the past generations. Arguably, it is the world of books and reading that has experienced the most erosion. Over the decades, the impact of television, computers and video games on children has been well researched and documented. But are there other factors that are insidiously contributing to the demise of a reading culture?
In this article, the concept of emergent literacy and its implications for reading will be explored. The impact of television and computers on the literacy rate will also be discussed. Furthermore, the impact of the typical harried modern lifestyle on reading will be examined. Alternative views on how children develop reading skills and the accompanying role of adults in this process will also be explored.
Author Anna HugoSource: Mousaion 29, pp 266 –281 (2011)More Less
Research and tests have revealed repeatedly that reading in primary schools in South Africa is in a shambles. Therefore, it is essential that teachers, especially Grade 1 teachers, should be consulted about the teaching of reading because it is at this level that reading is taught formally for the first time. This article aims to describe the teaching of reading in Grade 1 and the teachers' classroom practice for enhancing the teaching of reading and addressing reading problems.
This research project is based on quantitative and qualitative data obtained from Grade 1 teachers across South Africa. The quantitative data provided information about the teachers' training; the number of learners in the class; the availability of reading materials; and the language of learning and teaching. The qualitative data provided feedback about the problems that some young learners face in learning to read and what some teachers do to address these problems. The research project provided an array of Grade 1 classroom reading situations, including best reading practices of the teachers.
From the research it became evident that the majority of the teachers who came from functional schools were well trained and that they used a combination of the whole word and the phonics approach to teach reading. There was, however, a group of teachers who did not make use of the language experience approach and the Teaching Handwriting Reading and Spelling Skills (THRASS) programme. The research also revealed excellent reading practices to enhance the teaching of reading and to address reading problems. Some teachers also reported on the way in which they attend to the reading of learners who are not taught in their home language.
Recommendations about the use of all reading methods, the language of learning and teaching, the use of websites for children's literature, parental involvement and perceptual training are made. The possibility of a newsletter or a website for the teaching of reading is also mentioned.
Author Renee NathansonSource: Mousaion 29, pp 282 –297 (2011)More Less
This article discusses observational data obtained from research projects in the Western Cape which indicate that children are often given books to read that do not support their reading development. The data suggest that teachers need more information on leveling texts according to a gradient of difficulty. After briefly discussing two approaches to establishing gradients of difficulty in texts, the article proposes that the "little books" concept was an important breakthrough in designating difficulty levels to books. It recommends that teacher education models should include courses on evaluating gradients of difficulty in texts. In addition, the article suggests that teacher education models should include school and university partnerships. It concludes by stating that more research is needed to develop a common leveling system for local schools, which is comparable to international text gradients.
Source: Mousaion 29, pp 298 –314 (2011)More Less
This article posits that contrary to Western perceptions about learning, among Africans in general and the Shona in particular, it is quite natural and normal for children to learn as they play and engage in leisure. The line separating learning from playing is so thin that outsiders to the Shona way of life may have a false conviction that no learning has taken or is taking place if children are found playing. The article explores the intertwined nature of learning and playing as demonstrated through the game of riddling. The article's argument is informed by Afrocentrism, which advocates the rooting of standpoints in the African context and culture. It further implicitly argues that since children are keen on engaging in activities inclined towards playing, it is imperative for contemporary educators to exploit games as ways of teaching African learners.