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Back where they belong: Gypsies, kidnapping and assimilation in Victorian children’s literature'

Matthews, Jodie (2010) Back where they belong: Gypsies, kidnapping and assimilation in Victorian children’s literature'. Romani Studies 5, 20 (2). pp. 137-159. ISSN 1757–2274

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    Abstract

    Examples of Victorian children’s literature are examined to consider the recycling
    of the ‘Gypsy’ child-stealing myth, with attention drawn to common features of the
    stories as an indicator of the narratives’ cultural function. Fictions about the adoption
    and conversion of Gypsy children are read not as texts that tell opposite stories
    about where Gypsy and non-Gypsy children should reside – with their own or adoptive
    parents – but as narratives that perform the same ostensible task: demonstrating
    the subject’s proper place in a social order. The article suggests that rather than offer
    reassurance about where children belong, however, both genres betray anxieties about
    the legitimacy and naturalness of that social order; they trouble the forms and meaning
    of ‘family’, an institution supposed to act as a pillar of Victorian society and its
    divisions. The compulsive repetition of familial disorder results in the powerful association
    between Gypsies and kidnapping, an arbitrary connection made to seem obvious
    and natural through ubiquity.

    Item Type: Article
    Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
    P Language and Literature > PR English literature
    P Language and Literature > PZ Childrens literature
    Schools: School of Human and Health Sciences
    School of Human and Health Sciences > The Academy for the Study of Britishness
    Related URLs:
    Depositing User: Jodie Matthews
    Date Deposited: 11 Nov 2010 11:36
    Last Modified: 15 Dec 2010 15:46
    URI: http://eprints.hud.ac.uk/id/eprint/9020

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