Child Writers’ Collaborations across Age and Race in Circa-1970 America
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Fish, Amanda Noble
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CitationFish, Amanda Noble. 2019. Child Writers’ Collaborations across Age and Race in Circa-1970 America. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractThis project recovers a little-studied United States literary phenomenon: the surge of adult attention to writings authored by African American, Latinx, Asian American and Native American children in the wake of the civil rights movement. Between 1967 and 1972 alone, at least thirty anthologies of poetry and prose by children of color poured from adult-led workshops, classrooms and sites of juvenile incarceration. These texts attracted media coverage from New Jersey to Arizona, sometimes became bestsellers and inspired a hit Broadway musical.
Even while attracting national interest, child writers depended on more powerful, often-white adults to edit and circulate literary works. Focusing on black and Latinx children in New York City, this dissertation embeds close readings of youth writings within archival evidence of their production and reception to reveal children’s negotiations of unequal literary collaborations with adults. Young writers, the project argues, turned their tense and compromised authorial position into an expressive tool. By calling attention to the power dynamics of writing, children of color registered their simultaneously influential and increasingly threatened condition at the decline of the civil rights movement and the dawn of the War on Crime.
The project demonstrates young people’s contributions to literary developments of the era, particularly the Black Arts Movement. Leading adult writers served as collaborators and readers for children, who crafted age-specific forms of literary tools for liberation. Circa-1970 youth texts, moreover, illuminate the long history of writing under domination. Debates over child agency within children’s literature studies connect with critical race scholars’ discussions of mediated authorship through young people’s creative navigations across age, class and race.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:42106940
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