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Postgraduate Thesis: Mapping Neverland: a reading of J.M. Barrie'sPeter Pan text as pastoral, myth and romance
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TitleMapping Neverland: a reading of J.M. Barrie'sPeter Pan text as pastoral, myth and romance
 
AuthorsSze, Tin Tin.
施福田.
 
Issue Date2012
 
PublisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)
 
AbstractThis thesis is prompted by a curiosity about the popularity of the image of Peter Pan. Realising that the familiar and ubiquitous image is as much a product of consumer culture as it is the result of multimodal adaptations and reinterpretations of J. M. Barrie?s Peter Pan, this study attempts to shovel aside present-day conceptions of Peter Pan stories, so as to unearth the bedrock, to see Peter Pan as it was when it was new, back in its own time. To do so, this study goes back to the original Peter Pan texts. Picking out elements that signal the presence of certain literary modes, this thesis explores how the Peter Pan narratives engage with these modes, genres and traditions. One of the motives of the thesis is to rescue Peter Pan from ghettoization in the cosy category of “children?s literature”, and through critical attention to take it seriously as an important work in the literature of the early twentieth century. Chapter I situates Peter Pan in the pastoral tradition. Adducing William Empson?s concept of the pastoral as the process of “putting the complex into the simple”, this thesis argues that Peter Pan portrays two competing pastoral spaces and lays claim to the tradition by challenging its parameters of innocence. The chapter also invokes Bakhtin?s idea of carnival, asserting that the Peter Pan texts are “carnivalesque” in both their self-referential play with narrative and generic conventions, and with various more or less satirical and transgressive themes. Chapter II traces elements of Pan myths in the texts, and argues that the texts engage with the late-Victorian and Edwardian interest in myth by re-envisioning an avatar of Pan that would take its place amongst other literary Pans of the era, such as those of E. M. Forster, Kenneth Grahame, Elizabeth Browning, and Arthur Machen. The final chapter sets Peter Pan in the midst of a battle of modes of representation and vision, with R. L. Stevenson championing romance and Henry James politely standing for realism. The chapter argues that while the Peter Pan texts belong more to romance, they play with the boundaries of each by critiquing both modes, all the time showing up and relishing the artificiality of narration. The chapter then picks up on the sense of play, pervading Peter Pan’s engagement with every literary mode that has been discussed, and examines the social meanings and aesthetic instances of play against the backdrop of Edwardian England. Throughout the chapters, by dint of its spirit of play, Peter Pan problematizes the modern family and deconstructs the hierarchy of generations, along with the fundamental anthropological categories of childhood and adulthood, categories which were coming under scrutiny and pressure from the modernizing forces at work at the beginning of the twentieth century. With its sustained exploration of the structure of generations, Peter Pan addresses a problem of modernity in spite of its fantasy setting, and there is a case therefore for considering it under the rubric, elaborated by Nicholas Daly, of “popular modernism”.
 
DegreeMaster of Philosophy
 
SubjectPeter Pan (Fictitious character)
Pastoral literature, English - History and criticism.
Love in literature
Myth in literature.
 
Dept/ProgramEnglish
 
DC FieldValue
dc.contributor.authorSze, Tin Tin.
 
dc.contributor.author施福田.
 
dc.date.hkucongregation2012
 
dc.date.issued2012
 
dc.description.abstractThis thesis is prompted by a curiosity about the popularity of the image of Peter Pan. Realising that the familiar and ubiquitous image is as much a product of consumer culture as it is the result of multimodal adaptations and reinterpretations of J. M. Barrie?s Peter Pan, this study attempts to shovel aside present-day conceptions of Peter Pan stories, so as to unearth the bedrock, to see Peter Pan as it was when it was new, back in its own time. To do so, this study goes back to the original Peter Pan texts. Picking out elements that signal the presence of certain literary modes, this thesis explores how the Peter Pan narratives engage with these modes, genres and traditions. One of the motives of the thesis is to rescue Peter Pan from ghettoization in the cosy category of “children?s literature”, and through critical attention to take it seriously as an important work in the literature of the early twentieth century. Chapter I situates Peter Pan in the pastoral tradition. Adducing William Empson?s concept of the pastoral as the process of “putting the complex into the simple”, this thesis argues that Peter Pan portrays two competing pastoral spaces and lays claim to the tradition by challenging its parameters of innocence. The chapter also invokes Bakhtin?s idea of carnival, asserting that the Peter Pan texts are “carnivalesque” in both their self-referential play with narrative and generic conventions, and with various more or less satirical and transgressive themes. Chapter II traces elements of Pan myths in the texts, and argues that the texts engage with the late-Victorian and Edwardian interest in myth by re-envisioning an avatar of Pan that would take its place amongst other literary Pans of the era, such as those of E. M. Forster, Kenneth Grahame, Elizabeth Browning, and Arthur Machen. The final chapter sets Peter Pan in the midst of a battle of modes of representation and vision, with R. L. Stevenson championing romance and Henry James politely standing for realism. The chapter argues that while the Peter Pan texts belong more to romance, they play with the boundaries of each by critiquing both modes, all the time showing up and relishing the artificiality of narration. The chapter then picks up on the sense of play, pervading Peter Pan’s engagement with every literary mode that has been discussed, and examines the social meanings and aesthetic instances of play against the backdrop of Edwardian England. Throughout the chapters, by dint of its spirit of play, Peter Pan problematizes the modern family and deconstructs the hierarchy of generations, along with the fundamental anthropological categories of childhood and adulthood, categories which were coming under scrutiny and pressure from the modernizing forces at work at the beginning of the twentieth century. With its sustained exploration of the structure of generations, Peter Pan addresses a problem of modernity in spite of its fantasy setting, and there is a case therefore for considering it under the rubric, elaborated by Nicholas Daly, of “popular modernism”.
 
dc.description.naturepublished_or_final_version
 
dc.description.thesisdisciplineEnglish
 
dc.description.thesislevelmaster's
 
dc.description.thesisnameMaster of Philosophy
 
dc.identifier.hkulb4787000
 
dc.languageeng
 
dc.publisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)
 
dc.relation.ispartofHKU Theses Online (HKUTO)
 
dc.rightsThe author retains all proprietary rights, (such as patent rights) and the right to use in future works.
 
dc.rightsCreative Commons: Attribution 3.0 Hong Kong License
 
dc.source.urihttp://hub.hku.hk/bib/B4787000X
 
dc.subject.lcshPeter Pan (Fictitious character)
 
dc.subject.lcshPastoral literature, English - History and criticism.
 
dc.subject.lcshLove in literature
 
dc.subject.lcshMyth in literature.
 
dc.titleMapping Neverland: a reading of J.M. Barrie'sPeter Pan text as pastoral, myth and romance
 
dc.typePG_Thesis
 
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<date.issued>2012</date.issued>
<description.abstract>&#65279;This thesis is prompted by a curiosity about the popularity of the image of Peter Pan. Realising that the familiar and ubiquitous image is as much a product of consumer culture as it is the result of multimodal adaptations and reinterpretations of J. M. Barrie?s Peter Pan, this study attempts to shovel aside present-day conceptions of Peter Pan stories, so as to unearth the bedrock, to see Peter Pan as it was when it was new, back in its own time. To do so, this study goes back to the original Peter Pan texts. Picking out elements that signal the presence of certain literary modes, this thesis explores how the Peter Pan narratives engage with these modes, genres and traditions. One of the motives of the thesis is to rescue Peter Pan from ghettoization in the cosy category of &#8220;children?s literature&#8221;, and through critical attention to take it seriously as an important work in the literature of the early twentieth century. 

Chapter I situates Peter Pan in the pastoral tradition. Adducing William Empson?s concept of the pastoral as the process of &#8220;putting the complex into the simple&#8221;, this thesis argues that Peter Pan portrays two competing pastoral spaces and lays claim to the tradition by challenging its parameters of innocence. The chapter also invokes Bakhtin?s idea of carnival, asserting that the Peter Pan texts are &#8220;carnivalesque&#8221; in both their self-referential play with narrative and generic conventions, and with various more or less satirical and transgressive themes. Chapter II traces elements of Pan myths in the texts, and argues that the texts engage with the late-Victorian and Edwardian interest in myth by re-envisioning an avatar of Pan that would take its place amongst other literary Pans of the era, such as those of E. M. Forster, Kenneth Grahame, Elizabeth Browning, and Arthur Machen. The final chapter sets Peter Pan in the midst of a battle of modes of representation and vision, with R. L. Stevenson championing romance and Henry James politely standing for realism. The chapter argues that while the Peter Pan texts belong more to romance, they play with the boundaries of each by critiquing both modes, all the time showing up and relishing the artificiality of narration. The chapter then picks up on the sense of play, pervading Peter Pan&#8217;s engagement with every literary mode that has been discussed, and examines the social meanings and aesthetic instances of play against the backdrop of Edwardian England. 

Throughout the chapters, by dint of its spirit of play, Peter Pan problematizes the modern family and deconstructs the hierarchy of generations, along with the fundamental anthropological categories of childhood and adulthood, categories which were coming under scrutiny and pressure from the modernizing forces at work at the beginning of the twentieth century. With its sustained exploration of the structure of generations, Peter Pan addresses a problem of modernity in spite of its fantasy setting, and there is a case therefore for considering it under the rubric, elaborated by Nicholas Daly, of &#8220;popular modernism&#8221;.</description.abstract>
<language>eng</language>
<publisher>The University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)</publisher>
<relation.ispartof>HKU Theses Online (HKUTO)</relation.ispartof>
<rights>The author retains all proprietary rights, (such as patent rights) and the right to use in future works.</rights>
<rights>Creative Commons: Attribution 3.0 Hong Kong License</rights>
<source.uri>http://hub.hku.hk/bib/B4787000X</source.uri>
<subject.lcsh>Peter Pan (Fictitious character)</subject.lcsh>
<subject.lcsh>Pastoral literature, English - History and criticism.</subject.lcsh>
<subject.lcsh>Love in literature</subject.lcsh>
<subject.lcsh>Myth in literature.</subject.lcsh>
<title>Mapping Neverland: a reading of J.M. Barrie&apos;sPeter Pan text as pastoral, myth and romance</title>
<type>PG_Thesis</type>
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<description.thesisname>Master of Philosophy</description.thesisname>
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<date.hkucongregation>2012</date.hkucongregation>
<bitstream.url>http://hub.hku.hk/bitstream/10722/161560/1/FullText.pdf</bitstream.url>
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