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Reading in the DarkHorror in Children's Literature and Culture$
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Jessica R. McCort

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781496806444

Published to University Press of Mississippi: May 2018

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781496806444.001.0001

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From Aggressive Wolf to Heteronormative Zombie

From Aggressive Wolf to Heteronormative Zombie

Performing Monstrosity and Masculinity in the Narrative Picturebook

(p.90) From Aggressive Wolf to Heteronormative Zombie
Reading in the Dark

Rebecca A. Brown

University Press of Mississippi

Rebecca A. Brown examines the evolution of monstrous picturebooks, comparing the 1960s favorites Where the Wild Things Are and There’s a Nightmare in My Closet to contemporary picturebooks that make vampires, Frankensteinian monsters, and zombies the protagonists and considering them in relation to boys’ cultures dominant at the time of their publication. Brown concentrates especially on the role of the monstrous picturebook in young American boys’ negotiations of identity formation, as well as their domestication of otherness. Brown argues that while Sendak’s and Mayer’s books served to socialize children to the normative behaviors of 1960s American culture and ultimately demonstrate children’s ability to defeat or domesticate the monstrous, today’s monstrous picturebooks ask young boys to identify with the monster – to find traits within themselves that they share with the monsters in the books’ pages and to empathize with them. Brown ultimately shows, however, that despite their differences, both forms fixate on, challenge, and, in some cases, queer the boy’s social and gendered identity development within their specific historical contexts. The claims made in her essay can be used to examine the performance of gender in other picturebooks and horror texts for children and young adults that utilize horror elements to focus explicitly on the masculine experience of American culture and identity formation.

Keywords:   Picturebooks, Monstrous, Identity, Masculinity, Queer

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