Re-writing Pollyanna: towards a rethinking of representations of Asperger's in fiction

Guthrie, Laura (2018) Re-writing Pollyanna: towards a rethinking of representations of Asperger's in fiction. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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The first element of this work is a novel entitled Anna. The commentary that comprises the second element argues that aspects of the title character of Eleanor H. Porter’s 1913 Children’s Novel, Pollyanna, resemble fictional and medical depictions and descriptions of Asperger’s syndrome.
I carry out a character analysis of Porter’s Pollyanna using close reading, likening her depicted behaviour and implied patterns of speech and thought to traits associated with Asperger’s in fiction and in medical commentary. Given that Pollyanna is a public domain text written before the naming or first medical descriptions of Asperger’s, I discuss the implications of this, observing how, unlike many modern works featuring protagonists with Asperger’s, Pollyanna changes her surrounding community, not just in terms of how it operates and relates to her specifically, but in terms of how it operates and relates to itself. I argue for a need for such representations of contemporary fictional protagonists with Asperger’s, which I conclude to be more in keeping with the self-regard and aspirations of real people with Asperger’s.
I then give an account of the writing of my own novel, Anna, in a subjective, essayistic style in the vein of several fiction authors’ non-fiction commentaries on their own works, such as Milan Kundera’s ‘Dialogue on The Art of the Novel’ – included in The Art of the Novel (2005, Faber & Faber, pp.23-46), and Edgar Allen Poe’s ‘The Philosophy of Composition’, included in The Oxford Book of American Essays (Matthews (Ed.), 1914, pp.99-113).
The objective of this work is threefold: firstly, to show what must still be achieved in terms of future Aspie portrayals, that they may better reflect and represent the capabilities and experiences of Aspies today; secondly, to demonstrate how fiction not associated with specific medical labels can provide inspiration for new treatments of Aspie characters, with transferrable implications for all kinds of fictional representation; and thirdly to show how I put these findings into practice by transforming Pollyanna to create a complex representation of Asperger’s which reflects these objectives.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: autism, fiction, asperger's, asperger, aspergers, anna, pollyanna, guthrie, laura, representation, literature, disability studies, disability, porter.
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PE English
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Critical Studies > English Literature
Supervisor's Name: Jess-CookeCarolyn, Doctor Carolyn and Reeder, Doctor Elizabeth
Date of Award: 2018
Depositing User: Doctor Laura L.J. Guthrie
Unique ID: glathesis:2018-8970
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 01 Jun 2018 13:50
Last Modified: 19 Jun 2018 08:58

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