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Mattix, April, A (2012) THE ORPHAN AMONG US: AN EXAMINATION OF ORPHANS IN NEWBERY AWARD WINNING LITERATURE. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Orphan stories in children’s literature are rich and complex, and they have historically permeated the pages of children’s books. The purpose of this study was to explore the use of orphans as protagonists in children’s award-winning literature through content analysis. This study utilizes all the Newbery Award winning books (1922 – 2011) as well as the Newbery Honor books of the last decade (2002 – 2011) to provide a wide and deep swath of novels in order to present both historical perspective and attention to current trends. Specifically, this study explores how orphans are portrayed in Newbery texts, considers the messages these books convey about orphans, and compares the literary orphans against their real life counterparts. This investigation also seeks to determine the efficacy of previously established paradigms of orphan stories when compared to Newbery award-winning texts. The data in this study demonstrate that the orphan narrative is a popular form of children’s literature in the Newbery collection. It is a common literary tool for Newbery authors, and it serves as a platform for writers to develop strong, determined, and resilient protagonists who overcome adversity. The study also suggests that while there are similarities between the portrayal of orphans in Newbery texts and real life orphans, there are some discrepancies, particularly in the literary orphan’s ability to overcome the obstacles he or she faces. Additionally, current paradigms of orphan narrative literature do not wholly capture this corpus of texts. Finally, recommendations for practical classroom applications of the Newbery orphan stories are introduced.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Mattix, April,
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairCrawford, Patricia, Apcrawfor@pitt.eduPCRAWFOR
Committee MemberGomez,
Committee MemberGroark, Christinacgroark@pitt.eduCGROARK
Committee MemberGubar, Marahmjg4@pitt.eduMJG4
Committee MemberMyers, John, Pmyersjp@pitt.eduMYERSJP
Date: 29 August 2012
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 5 June 2012
Approval Date: 29 August 2012
Submission Date: 8 June 2012
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 289
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Education > Instruction and Learning
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: orphans, children's literature, Newbery Award
Date Deposited: 29 Aug 2012 18:52
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:58


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