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Constructing the emotions of childhood: an analysis of Margaret Mahy’s use of emotion in her literary contribution to the School Journal

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posted on 2021-11-13, 12:04 authored by Helleur Hiscock, Gemma Amy

This qualitative content analysis research study examines how Margaret Mahy used emotion in the School Journal to form insights into reader appeal, reader response and the social construction of childhood. This research study examines Mahy’s contribution to the School Journal. The study explores this body of work in terms of how its author uses emotion to captivate readers by evoking the feelings associated with childhood. The underlying objective of the study was to provide insights into why Mahy’s work is so treasured and memorable; to explain how she uses emotion to captivate readers, and how this contributes to the social construction of childhood. The prose and poetry Mahy contributed to the School Journal prove to be a significant, rich and uncharted resource for the purposes of this research investigation. Analysis of this body of work has allowed for greater insights and understanding into Mahy’s contribution to children’s literature. It has also allowed for a greater appreciation of how Mahy’s use of emotion contributes to the social construction of childhood. This type of content analysis research study proves to be invaluable in the development of reader’s advisory services to young people. The employment of a content analysis methodology, underpinned by a discourse analysis approach, enabled the emotional narratives of Mahy’s text to be explained and understood. The study’s findings, that lightness and aliveness are the most prevalent and persuasive emotions operating within Mahy’s text, was substantiated through analysis of actual reader responses. This investigation is most applicable to school librarians, children’s librarians and educators. The study has broader implications for the improvement of client interaction and collection development in youth library services


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Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Masters Research Paper or Project



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Information Management