Marketing Masculinity, Branding the Book: Current Gender Trends in the Presentation of Selected Boys’ Adventure Novels

Janice Robertson, South Africa, ID LLCE2016-360;             Chris Bradford’s Young Samurai series, and his more recent Bodyguard Series draw on a strong sense of hegemonic masculinity to secure popularity for the protagonist. The success of these books is particularly interesting when one considers the gender agendas that are embraced by modern western society and the extent to which general opinion has altered in terms of the performance of masculinity.

According to John Stephens in Ways of Being Male: Representing Masculinities in Children’s Literature and Film (2002:x), a problem for boys, both in narrative fictions and in the world, is that hegemonic masculinity ‘appears simultaneously to propose a schema for behaviour and to insist on their subordination as children, to conflate agency with hegemonic masculinity, and to disclose that, for them, such agency is illusory. These paradoxes are currently being increasingly dealt with as a theme in children’s literature and film’. My paper will discuss these apparent paradoxes in Chris Bradford’s novels in the context of a 21st century child readership.

Keywords: Children’s literature, gender literacy, masculinity studies, adventure novel