Into the Closet: Cross-Dressing and the Gendered Body in Children's Literature and Film (Hardback) book cover

Into the Closet

Cross-Dressing and the Gendered Body in Children's Literature and Film

By Victoria Flanagan

© 2008 – Routledge

296 pages

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Paperback: 9780415809047
pub: 2011-08-15
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Into the Closet examines the representation of cross-dressing in a wide variety of children’s fiction, ranging from picture books and junior fiction to teen films and novels for young adults. It provides a comprehensive analysis of the different types of cross-dressing found in children’s narratives, raising a number of significant issues relating to the ideological construction of masculinity and femininity in books for younger readers.

Many literary and cultural critics have studied the cultural significance of adult cross-dressing, yet although cross-dressing representations are plentiful in children’s literature and film, very little critical attention has been paid to this subject to date. Into the Closet fills this critical gap. Cross-dressing demonstrates how gender is symbolically constructed through various items of clothing and apparel. It also has the ability to deconstruct notions of problematizing the relationship between sex and gender. Into the Closet is an important book for academics, teachers, and parents because it demonstrates how cross-dressing, rather than being taboo, is frequently used in children’s literature and film as a strategy to educate (or enculturate) children about gender.


"It is my hope that this book will serve as a springboard to increasingly critical scholarship about (and diverse representations within) children's literature and film."

-- Children's Literature Association Quarterly, Vol. 34, No. 1, Spring 2009

Table of Contents

Series Editor’s Foreword



Chapter 1

Children’s Literature and the Cultural Discourse of Cross-dressing

Chapter 2

Cross-dressing in Children’s Literature and Film: Three Models of Gender Disguise

Chapter 3

Iconic Female Cross-dressing: The Problem of Gender in Children’s Retellings of the Story of Joan of Arc

Chapter 4

Re-framing Masculinity: The De-stabilizing Effect of the Female Cross-dresser

Chapter 5

Funny Boys: Masculinity, Misogyny and the Carnivalesque in Children’s Male Cross-dressing Literature

Chapter 6

(Mis)Performing Gender Through a Lens: Cross-dressing in Children’s Cinema

Chapter 7

Emerging Identities: Cross-dressing and Sexuality in Adolescent Fiction





About the Author

Victoria Flanagan completed her doctoral dissertation about cross-dressing in children's literature in 2005 at Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia. She has published several critical articles and in 2002 contributed a chapter to Ways of Being Male: Representing Masculinities in Children's Literature and Film, edited by John Stephens (Routledge, 2002).

About the Series

Children's Literature and Culture

Founded by Jack Zipes in 1994, Children's Literature and Culture is the longest-running series devoted to the study of children’s literature and culture from a national and international perspective. Dedicated to promoting original research in children’s literature and children’s culture, in 2011 the series expanded its focus to include childhood studies, and it seeks to explore the legal, historical, and philosophical conditions of different childhoods. An advocate for scholarship from around the globe, the series recognizes innovation and encourages interdisciplinarity. Children's Literature and Culture offers cutting-edge, upper-level scholarly studies and edited collections considering topics such as gender, race, picturebooks, childhood, nation, religion, technology, and many others. Titles are characterized by dynamic interventions into established subjects and innovative studies on emerging topics.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LITERARY CRITICISM / Children's Literature