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Chapter 18

SOCI 1F90 Chapter Notes - Chapter 18: Brussels Sprout, Heteronormativity, Homophobia

Course Code
Michelle Webber

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January 4 th
, 2016
Chapter 18: Beyond Normalization: An Analysis of Heteronormativity in Children’s
Picture Books
Discussions of children’s literary criticism and discussion of anti-oppressive
politics take place in isolation from one another
Children’s literary criticism has a tendency to discuss literary quality while
ignoring issues of systematic power and privilege; while books that actively
engage with anti-oppressive politics can ignore the way didactic political
messages can compromise not only literary quality but also the effectiveness of
the message itself
Children’s stories, so often repeated, can begin to shape values and
Political Questions
Do picture books recreate power hierarchies from the dominant culture
Is the LGBT/queer reader “othered”
Homophobia dealt with in a way that shows homophobia as the problem to be
challenged as opposed to families with same-sex relationships needing to justify
that they are healthy
Validated for homophobic reasons:
oAre they framed as acceptable
oChildren are straight
Literary Questions
oOnly event the fact that there are same-sex relationships
Are the characters in the story distinct individuals or static symbols?
Does the reader get to know them in ways that show their uniqueness, their
humour, and their quirks?
Can the reader identify with them?
Engaging story
“Moral Message”
How “Gay Is Normal” In Children’s Picture Books
Many books focused on the assertion that “gay is normal” at the expense of
enthralling story lines, multi-faceted characters, enticing language and other
elements of literary quality
Cartoonish and oversimplified, depicting conservatively gendered, white, middle-
class norms
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