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Heteronormativity in EFL textbooks and in two genres of children’s literature (Harry Potter and same-sex parent family picture books)

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2015
<mark>Journal</mark>Language Issues
Issue number2
Number of pages10
Pages (from-to)17-26
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This paper examines representations of heteronormativity (and its influence) across several kinds of literature aimed at a child (and sometimes adult) audience, and does so by examining relationships between language and sexuality. The study firstly focuses on the study of English as a Foreign Language (EFL) textbooks, giving an overview of research from the literature. The authors look at heteronormativity in these overtly pedagogical texts and consider some implications for textbook writers and analysts when challenging predominantly heteronormative representations of sexuality in these texts. The authors then consider representations of sexuality in children's fiction. The prevalence of heteronormativity in the Harry Potter series is considered in relation to broad aspects of identity (gender, sexuality, class). Heteronormativity vis à vis homonormativity is then discussed in relation to the analysis of a large collection of picturebooks featuring same-sex parents, the results of which suggest that, although gay and lesbian parents feature as central characters, the manner of representation largely reflects heteronormative relationships and parenting discourses. The paper concludes by identifying challenges, in particular for EFL textbook writers and publishers. Producers of these texts have to consider a global audience part of whom is likely to reject material that offers alternatives to heteronormativity. The authors suggest strategies that could be used to offer representations of heteronormativity of a 'lesser' degree (such as same-sex friend scenes) that allow for alternative readings.