"“Girls Like it Most” Challenging Gendered Canons and Paracanons in the case of The Secret Garden"

Alison Waller

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In this chapter Alison Waller asks how reading histories might be used to reform ideas of canonicity in children’s literature, focusing on gendered responses and using Frances Hodgeson Burnett’s well-known girls’ story The Secret Garden (1911) as a case study. Waller examines The Secret Garden as it has functioned as a ‘paracanonical’ text, one that has exerted a peculiar influence over adult readers who remember reading it in childhood. Setting personal memories included in feminist criticism of the text against accounts of remembering and rereading created by adult men in interview with the researcher, Waller probes canonical interpretations of Burnett’s work and argues that there is an alternative story of male readerly engagement that is worth recovering.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCanon Constitution and Canon Change in Children’s Literature
EditorsBettina Kümmerling-Meibauer , Anja Müller
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherRoutledge: Taylor & Francis Group
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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