Thesis Title: “And One Knight Treated Her Despicably”: Sexuality, Sexual Assault, and Feminist Revisionism in Adaptations for Children
Supervisor: Diane Purkiss
Research Interests: children's literature; canon formation; women's writing; feminist revisionism; medievalism; constructed pasts; sexual poetics; adaptation, retelling and translation
My thesis investigates the tangled temporality inherent to children’s adaptations of ‘canonical’ English texts, with particular focus on its complex relationship to sexuality and the place of the woman writer. The boom in Anglophone children’s adaptations of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries illustrates a fundamental tension between valorization and anxiety within a nationalistic project devoted to constructing the ‘childhood’ of the English language itself. Such tensions are all the more evident in texts whose subject matter conflicts, often explicitly, with notions of propriety and sexual innocence, such as Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales—a work nevertheless immensely popular for children’s adapters during the early phase of children’s adaptation. More broadly, I am interested in how children’s versions destabilise the idea of an ‘original’ text, as the timescale of Western culture must contend with the restrictions of the human lifespan and contemporaneous concepts of ‘the child’.