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Date of Award
Dissertation-ISU Access Only
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Department of English
This dissertation explores the mutually constitutive and discursively driven connections between gender, identity, and place in girls' castaway novels, or Robinsonades, by examining how these texts revise a masculinist genre initiated by the publication of Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe. Existing research in children's literature studies often focuses on how Robinson Crusoe and boys' Robinsonades communicate historically- and culturally-constructed ideologies about individualism and masculinity; however, little work has been done to emphasize how girl characters in Robinsonades construct modes of femininity through their interactions and connections with other people, animals, and the environment. This dissertation uses ecofeminism and care ethics as a critical framework to examine how the ties between women and nature and traditionally devalued feminine values, like care and interconnectedness, subvert masculinist paradigms in Robinson Crusoe and boys' Robinsonades. Chapter one establishes definitions and tropes associated with castaway novels, provides a heuristic of the girls' Robinsonade that modifies existing tropes to account for feminine values, and lays the theoretical groundwork that subsequent chapters reference in analyzing the ties between gender, place, and identity in girls' Robinsonades. Chapters two and four devote more extended space to analyzing the ways by which girl castaways form affective bonds with other people, while chapter three explores the ways girl castaways establish caring relationships with animals and the environment. Each of these chapters ties the cultivation of caring relationships to the protagonists' formation of their identity. The dissertation ends with a discussion of the pedagogical questions raised by Robinson Crusoe and children's castaway novels and offers reasons for the persistent appeal of this body of texts for young readers.
Hicks, Amy, "Playing at Crusoe: Gender, Place, and Identity in Girls' Robinsonades" (2015). Theses and Dissertations. 322.