UBC Theses and Dissertations
The masked masquerade : superhero and princess narratives and gendered masquerade in an early childhood setting. Moule, Jennifer Carla
Drawing from a poststructuralist feminist paradigm, this thesis considers the questions “How do the observed popular fantasy narratives in a child care setting intersect with three- and four-year-olds’ gendered subjectivities?” and “How and why do these narratives contribute to marginalised subjectivities in this setting?” I spent two-and-a-half months in an early childhood classroom using ethnographic-type methods, with a perspective of “methodological immaturity” (Gallacher & Gallagher, 2008) in departing from the Mosaic approach of multiple methods (Clark, 2005). The study included six children – two girls and four boys from three- to four-and-a-half-years-old – with whom I engaged in “conversations with a special purpose” (Eide & Winger, 2005), participant-observation, and the occasional activity-based methods. In considering Butler’s (2008) conceptualisation of gender as masquerade, the children’s gender performances intermingled meaningfully with the fantasy play narratives of superheroes and princesses. The children seemingly masqueraded these commodified identities in body and discourse towards better satisfying the implicit expectations of a well-performed gender discursively put upon young children’s bodies. Further, through these embodied discourses, other child bodies were relegated to the margins. Much of this was demonstrated through the restricting discourses called upon by me in the research conversations themselves, such as calling on a boy/girl binary in asking about the “rules for boys.” Thus, limitations of the research methods used are thoroughly discussed. This research suggests departing from an all-or-nothing mentality on “allowing” this play, and encouraging new ways to engage with and depart from these narratives.
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