Gender construction of female protagonists in recent Afrikaans youth novels

22 Aug 2018

Critics of young adult literature (YAL) agree that youth novels can play an important role in forming identity in adolescent readers. While reading YAL the reader is confronted with implicit social, political and cultural norms, power structures, stereotypes and sexism which form part of their world and could have an influence in forming their identity and gender roles. The aim of this article is to establish whether there was a meaningful change in the portraying of gender roles, especially those of female characters, in recent prize-winning Afrikaans youth novels. The research investigated whether such a change took place and what influence it could have had on the gender and identity construction of the young female reader. Five youth novels with strong female protagonists, published between 2002 and 2012, were selected: Die ongelooflike avonture van Hanna Hoekom by Marita van der Vyver (2002), Pandora se boks by Nelia Engelbrecht (2007), Lien se lankstaanskoene by Derick van der Walt (2007), Die verdrinking van Josua van