Attending to the mid-Victorian boys’ adventure novel and its connections with missionary culture, Michelle Elleray investigates how empire was conveyed to Victorian children in popular forms, with a focus on the South Pacific as a key location of adventure tales and missionary efforts. The volume draws on an evangelical narrative about the formation of coral islands to demonstrate that missionaryinvestments in the socially marginal (the young, the working class, the racial other) generated new forms of agency that are legible in the mid-Victorian boys’ adventure novel, even as that agency was subordinated to Christian values identified with the British middle class. Situating novels by Frederick Marryat, R. M. Ballantyne and W. H. G. Kingston in the periodical culture of the missionary enterprise, this volume newly historicizes British children’s textual interactions with the South Pacific and its peoples. Although the mid-Victorian authors examined here portray British presence in imperial spaces as a moral imperative, our understanding of the "adventurer" is transformed from the plucky explorer to the cynical mercenary through Robert Louis Stevenson, who provides a late-nineteenth-century critique of the imperial and missionary assumptions that subtended the mid-Victorian boys’ adventure novel of his youth.
This series recognizes and supports innovative work on the child and on literature for children and adolescents that informs teaching and engages with current and emerging debates in the field. Proposals are welcome for interdisciplinary and comparative studies by humanities scholars working in a variety of fields, including literature; book history, periodicals history, and print culture and the sociology of texts; theater, film, musicology, and performance studies; history, including the history of education; gender studies; art history and visual culture; cultural studies; and religion.
Topics might include, among other possibilities, how concepts and representations of the child have changed in response to adult concerns; postcolonial and transnational perspectives; "domestic imperialism" and the acculturation of the young within and across class and ethnic lines; the commercialization of childhood and children's bodies; views of young people as consumers and/or originators of culture; the child and religious discourse; children's and adolescents' self-representations; and adults' recollections of childhood.