Literary Mirrors of Contrasts: Representations and Negotiation of Conflict between Notions of Self and Other

Patricia Ong, University of Waikato

The concept of ‘Otherness’ or ‘Othering’ has been viewed as a dimension of defining the self. Critical discourse has come to refer to ‘otherness’ as that which digresses from what is accepted as the cultural norm, at times with ambiguous imageries of wildness and wilderness. Narratives of indigenous people, ‘invisible’ minorities, narratives of children with disabilities, newcomer and refugee narratives are a few instances of literary representations of otherness. New horizons are explored through fantasy and science fiction, dealing with strangeness and disruptions of traditional conception of time, space and identity. ‘Otherness’ is also found in literary representations as children develop an awareness and concomitant knowledge of growing out of ‘being’ a child. The emergent sense of the ‘other’ is one of the means by which children first become aware of those who are different. The presentation examines the discourse of ‘Otherness’ in the works of two well-known children’s authors. It also examines how critical multiculturalism in children’s literature can help to counter and negate harmful definitions of the ‘Other’ that are based on stereotypes that are discriminatory and stigmatizing. It concludes with a few points on the rationale of philosophy with children.


Patricia Ong  Bio: The author has recently completed her PhD at the University of Waikato, New Zealand. She has been in the education field for more then two decades and she has a wide range of research interests including the 21st century curriculum and culturally relevant pedagogical approaches.

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