Joining the emergent interdisciplinary investment in bridging the social sciences and the humanities, Childhood, Agency, and Fantasy: Walking in Other Worlds explores linkages between children’s agency and fantasy. Fantasy as an integral aspect of childhood and as a genre allows for children’s spectacular dreams and hopeful realities. Friendship, family, identity, loyalty, belongingness, citizenry, and emotionality are central concepts explored in chapters that are anchored by humanities texts of television, film, and literature, but also by social science qualitative methods of participant observation and interviews. Fantasy has the capacity to be a revolutionary change agent that in its modernity can creatively reflect, critique, or reimagine the social, political, and cultural norms of our world. Such promise is also found to be true of children’s agency, wherein children’s beings and becomings, rooted in childhood’s freedoms and constraints, result in a range of outcomes. In the endeavor to broaden theory and research on children’s agency, fantasy becomes a point of possibility with its expanding subjectivities, far-reaching terrain, and spirit of adventure.
Ingrid E. Castro is professor of sociology and chair of the Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work Department at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.
1-Where Do We Belong? Childhood Studies, Agency, Citizenry, and Fantasy – Ingrid E. Castro
Dream/Good vs. Evil
2-A Futile Rage against the Machine: The Triumph of The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T – Peter W.Y. Lee
3-Developing Children’s Agency through Play with Imaginary Companions – Kostas Magos and Sophia Kremmydiotou
4-Arcadia is in the Hands of Teenagers: Team Power in Guillermo del Toro’s Trollhunters – Tara Moore
5-The Boy Who Lives: Agentic Locations of Friendship Identity, Peer Culture, and Interpretive Reproduction in Harry Potter – Ingrid E. Castro
6-All in the Family: The Agency of Demigods and Godlings in the Mythic World of Rick Riordan – Michele D. Castleman
7-Young People’s Agency in Online Fan Spaces – Parinita Shetty
8-Girls’ Agency through Supermobility: The Power of Imagined Futures in Young Adult Fantasy Literature – Ida Fadzillah Leggett
9-Being Scared in the Dark: Paradoxes, Perils, and the Promise of Fantasy for Urban Girls of Color – Ingrid E. Castro and Ana Lilia Campos-Manzo
As fantasy has become a defining force in children’s lives, through their interaction with film, novels, television, social media, games, and play, it is crucial that scholars evaluate fantasy through the lens of childhood studies. Here, contributors tackle the intersection of fantasy, childhood, and agency. Since children are quite literally the future, it matters what they are consuming, including what kinds of messages they are receiving about the potential for agency over their own lives and futures. Castro assembles a compelling, diverse array of themes and disciplinary perspectives. Recommended.
Working through particular cases across ‘real life’ and fiction, this volume explores fantasy as a modality of children’s agency. It is a rich, insightful and significant contribution to a growing field of study. A joy to read.
Anyone interested in childhood studies and the inner lives of children will appreciate this book because it provides fresh ways of looking at the everyday. The variety of subjects in this edited volume transport readers to the world of children’s cultures through fantasy and popular culture, highlighting spaces for agency. The authors will make you think differently about the way we approach children and perhaps even prompt you to revisit your own childhood.