Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Living in the Lens of Literary Theory

Yesterday I was re-reading some of my old papers from graduate school. In my final paper for YA Realism, I discussed the nostalgia factor in coming-of-age stories such as one of my favorite films Now and Then. One of the sources I used was Eric Tribunella’s article “From Kiddle Lit to Kiddie Porn: The Sexualization of Children’s Literature.” Tribunella states that adults wish to re-experience and re-imagine a fantasized childhood. He asks “Who would want to relive childhood exactly as it was lived the first time?”. Who would indeed?! Homework, cleaning your room, fights with friends over thing which, in retrospect are ridiculous.  . .we’d like to re-live our childhood taking advantage of the freedom that we enjoy as adults.

I realized that I am doing that right now. I work as a librarian in a middle school, and I am also an adviser to a group of 7th graders. This job is alot of fun for me: I went on the 7th grade camping trip, I read all the latest young adult novels, I go outside and play 9 square and I laugh at the silly, and often inappropriate jokes that I hear. I told the 7th graders in my group that I love my job because I get to be a middle-schooler again! However, I am RE-experiencing these years with adult freedom. It’s not the real middle school experience, it’s the fantasized version. I have to be in school all day, but I get paid to be here. I don’t have to do any homework. I don’t worry about my new outfit or what boy might like me that day (in fact, I barely wear any make-up). And I don't have to take the bus; I can drive myself! When I go home at night, there are no parents to nag about me math grade or my messy room; I can eat whatever I want for dinner and go to bed at any time I want.

I get to experience the fun parts of adolescence: camping trips, talent shows, a whole week of at Christmas and all summer off, but I am now the child I never was, and never could be because I have the freedom of an adult.

I always view the world around me through the lens of literary theory, but sometimes I forget that I am also LIVING in literary theory.

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