Date of Award

5-1-2011

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

English

First Advisor

Molino, Michael

Abstract

Eilís Dillon, in her young adult novels, evokes to her readers rich images: wind blowing in off the cold and vast Atlantic Ocean over the rugged landscape of rocks and stone-walls with ancient forts inhabiting the highest points, and thatched roof houses squat and solid against nature. This dissertation will explore the multifaceted position of the fictional child, the reader and adult as they each encounter exhilarating adventure on Dillon's windswept islands. The connection between the fictional child in, and the child reader of, the world of Eilís Dillon's Irish children's novels illustrates the capacity for young adult literature to be an effective means of conveying problematic ideas to a young audience. Eilís Dillon uses the nostalgic realism of her west coast island stories to preserve, while at the same time critique, her native Ireland. This will be analyzed through examination of the interrelationship between the fictional children that provide the narrative voice, the child reader, and the adult author. At the same time this dissertation will discuss Dillon's relationship to her contemporaries and subsequently, her relationship to children's fiction coming out of Ireland. Dillon's nostalgic realism which enhances the image of rural Irish island life is at the heart of what scholars past and present take from Dillon's body of work.

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