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Identity through the other: Canadian adventure romance for adolescents
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts.
1996 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This study of Canadian adventure romance for adolescents seeks to demonstrate the cultural significance of the genre through close readings of James Houston's Frozen Fire and The White Archer, Monica Hughes's Hunter in the Dark and Ring-Rise, Ring-Set, as well as Markoosie's Harpoon of the Hunter. By means of a semiotic-structuralist approach I examine the texts as a signifying system conveying discourses that constitute a code of connection to the social context of contemporary young-adult readers.Structured on the formula: separation-initiation-return and informed by the symbolism of death-rebirth, the stories hold out the promise of a life-enhancing return. Roland Barthes's definition of myth as a mode of signification underpins my discussion of how the narrative conventions become vehicles of existential truths by replicating and intensifying adventurous experiences. With the quest for identity and the polarization between two worlds as structural determinants, the selected books juxtapose the values of Western civilization with those expressed through the Canadian North and its indigenous population. As a defining category of Canadian identity, the northern wilderness provides the space and the challenges for the protagonists' initiatory experiences. My application of the dichotomy self-other to the selected books provides a number of polarized positions such as civilization-wilderness, white-native, male-female, and conscious-unconscious, polarities through which the different discursive levels of the texts are generated. Arguably, the formulaic character of the journeys into the unknown allows the stories to signify on various levels, thus inviting both psychological and ideological readings of the texts.It is primarily through a recycling of narrative conventions that Houston and Hughes invest their work with significance. By focusing on the structural and thematic similarities of adventure romance, my examination attempts to elucidate the parallels to mythic adventure and archaic rites of initiation with the aim of validating the role of the genre as symbolic representations of the process of maturation and vicarious rites of passage. The conclusions I draw have a bearing on much of Houston's and Hughes's fiction, on the genre of romance as a whole, and to some extent on the adjacent genres of fantasy and science fiction.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet , 1996. , 148 p.
Umeå studies in the humanities, ISSN 0345-0155 ; 133
Keyword [en]
Adventure romance, quest for identity, unit of the monomyth, Canadian North, polarized worlds, myths, first and second-order system, psychological discourse, cultural critique, vicarious rite of passage
Keyword [sv]
Hughes, Monica Hughes, Houston, James Houston, Markoosie, Kanadensisk barn- och ungdomslitteratur, Kanadensiska äventyrsromaner, historia
National Category
General Literature Studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-74187ISBN: 91-7191-231-2OAI: diva2:633611
Public defence
1996-11-09, Humanisthuset, hörsal F, Umeå universitet, Umeå, 13:15

Behandlar James Houston, Monica Hughes och Markoosie.

Available from: 2013-06-27 Created: 2013-06-27 Last updated: 2013-06-27Bibliographically approved

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