Your cart is empty.
The Child Gaze - Narrating Resistance in American Literature

The Child Gaze

Narrating Resistance in American Literature

By Amanda M. Greenwell
Series: Children's Literature Association Series

Hardcover : 9781496854544, 208 pages, 21 b&w illustrations, December 2024
Paperback : 9781496854551, 208 pages, 21 b&w illustrations, December 2024
Expected to ship: 2024-12-16
Expected to ship: 2024-12-16

Table of contents

Introduction: The Power and Possibilities of Centering Child Sight Lines
Chapter One: The Appreciative Child Gaze: Valuing Visions of Marginalized Childhoods
Chapter Two: The Countersurveillant Child Gaze: Looking Back at Authority
Chapter Three: The Transactional Child Gaze: Wrestling with Ideology in the Visual Surround
Chapter Four: Comics Form and Materialization of the Child Gaze
Epilogue: Envisioning Avenues for Further Study
Works Cited

A compelling study centered on the eyes of children and their powerful lines of sight


The Child Gaze: Narrating Resistance in American Literature theorizes the child gaze as a narrative strategy for social critique in twentieth- and twenty-first-century US literature for children and adults. Through a range of texts, including James Baldwin’s Little Man, Little Man, Mildred Taylor’s Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese, and more, Amanda M. Greenwell focuses on children and their literal acts of looking. Detailing how these acts of looking direct the reader, she posits that the sightlines of children serve as signals to renegotiate hegemonic ideologies of race, ethnicity, creed, class, and gender. In her analysis, Greenwell shows how acts of looking constitute a flexible and effective narrative strategy, capable of operating across multiple points of view, focalizations, audiences, and forms.

Weaving together scholarship on the US child, visual culture studies, narrative theory, and other critical traditions, The Child Gaze explores the ways in which child acts of looking compel readers to look at and with a child character, whose gaze encourages critiques of privileged visions of national identity. Chapters investigate how child acts of looking allow texts to redraw circles of inclusion around the locus of the child gaze and mobilize childhood as a site of resistance. The powerful child gaze can thus disrupt dominant scripts of power, widening the lens through which belonging in the US can be understood.


"The Child Gaze intervenes in assumptions about the role of the child in fiction for young readers and adults alike and articulates important insights about the real-world implications of attending to the child’s gaze in the texts we read. This is a text that will change understanding and start conversations."

- Sara K. Day, author of Reading Like a Girl: Narrative Intimacy in Contemporary American Young Adult Literature