University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Faculty of Education Research Students' Association (FERSA) Lunchtime Seminars 2014-2015 > Empowering the Angel of the House: How What Katy Did Promotes the Child's Voice

Empowering the Angel of the House: How What Katy Did Promotes the Child's Voice

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The eponymous protagonist in What Katy Did (1872) is one of the more unruly girls in nineteenth-century American children’s literature. Her unruliness reaches its peak when Katy suffers a fall, consequently losing her ability to walk. From this point she enters what I have termed the “bed-stage,” a temporary period during which the child is confined to a bed and their voice is taken seriously by adults. Many feminist scholars view this period negatively, as it represses wild girls into tame women. I argue that because it offers the child a voice, the bed-stage empowers. The bed-stage motif is a common one in nineteenth-century girls’ books; however, protagonists often need the stage to influence the imperfect adults. Katy breaks this mould by having faults; she needs to change. I will explore how Katy differs from the other protagonists, and what this means in the wider context of this genre.

This talk is part of the Faculty of Education Research Students' Association (FERSA) Lunchtime Seminars 2014-2015 series.

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