Monday, 25 November 2013

ABC blog: C

See previous entries A B

C is for crossvocalisation. Like with aetonormativity, I coined this word because I needed it. It means that a male author uses a female first-person narrator and the other way round. I used crossdressing as analogy. Crossvocalisation is a performance: what interested me was whether a female narrative voice genuinely performs as female, which of course led to a whole bunch of questions about what it means for a voice to be male or female, because narrative voice, as everything else in a narrative text is a construction and has nothing to do with the real author's gender, nor the protagonist's gender. I tested the idea at a major children's literature conference, and the editor of a major journal asked me to develop my paper into an article. The reviewers found lots of petty faults with the article, but failed to notice my revolutionary approach to narrative, and the article was rejected. I published it in Swedish, and then I reworked it into a chapter in Power, Voice and Subjectivity. If you google it, there are 1,500 hits, most of them to my book, and some to course syllabi where the book is used. I haven't seen it employed in further scholarship, so here is your chance.

When I wrote that first article and even in my book I found very few examples of successful male-female crossvocalisation, while there were scores of female writers who used male voices. I also noticed that when male authors did use female voices, gender was often blurred by other, more prominent features, such as ethnicity or genre. I jumped to conclusions, but since then I have read some superb crossvocalised novels, such as The Fault in Our Stars and She is Not Invisible, so apparently male YA authors have recently become bolder in their choices of narrative perspective. Which makes me glad, because I didn't like the idea that women should be more imaginative and empathetic than men.

C is of course also for carnival and chronotope, which I have already mentioned; and it is for cats, a subject that I have studied academically as well as empirically.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Dr. Nikolajeva,
I was wondering whether the term "crossvocalisation" can be used only when a male author uses a female first-person narrator and the other way round, or when fe/male author writes across gender? I ask because I'm not sure which term to use when it's not a first-person narrator... like in Таня Гроттер series, for example.
BTW, I started reading your blog about a week ago and it's awesome. I started reading it mostly because I'm interested in the study of children's literature, but also because I am displaced, too... and have no idea how to reply when people ask me where I'm from.