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Title: Representations of care-experienced children in contemporary British fiction
Authors: Edwards-Capes, Kirsty
Advisors: Evaristo, B
Lynch, C
Keywords: Care experienced literature;Own voices novels;Foster care fiction
Issue Date: 2020
Publisher: Brunel University London
Abstract: Since 1991, when The Story of Tracy Beaker by Jacqueline Wilson was published, a canon of fiction featuring young, care-experienced protagonists has emerged in contemporary British novel-writing. British care-experienced fiction deals with the various unique issues associated with growing up the care system in the United Kingdom; including issues of identity and belonging, biological-essentialist approaches to motherhood and the maternal; and harmful stereotypes of expected ‘poor outcomes’ among care-experienced people (C.E.P.s). While some works of fiction with care-experienced characters look to disrupt negative cultural stereotypes around C.E.P.s, other examples approach the care experience uncritically, reinforcing popular perceptions of looked-after children as necessarily pre-determined to fail, monstrous or evil. The work submitted comprises of the following: 1. A novel, entitled The Hatchling 2. A critical reflective essay The novel is work of autoethnographic literary fiction which draws on my own experience of growing up in the care system. It follows Bess, a fifteen-year-old girl in foster care who falls pregnant. The pregnancy raises questions for her around the nature of motherhood, whether ‘bad’ mothering is a hereditary condition, and whether one can choose their mother(s). The reader follows Bess as she meets Boy, the father, to the moment of her discovering her pregnancy, and through her decision-making process as to whether she ought to keep the baby or have an abortion. The critical reflection portion of this thesis will examine recent examples of care-experienced fiction in contemporary British literature, across children’s, young adult (Y.A.) and adult fiction. It will focus on portrayals of young female protagonists with care experience: their relationship with the maternal and biological-essentialist attitudes to motherhood; issues of identity and belonging; and where tropes of ‘poor outcomes’ are reinforced and where they are subverted. In addition, the exegesis will examine my own novel as a contribution to the emerging care-experienced canon, demonstrating the necessity for more nuanced and critical approaches to the care experience, from ‘Own Voices’ communities, in contemporary fiction
Description: This thesis was submitted for the award of Doctor of Philosophy and was awarded by Brunel University London
Appears in Collections:English and Creative Writing
Dept of Arts and Humanities Theses

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