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Year of Graduation
MFA: Children's Literature
Professor Hillary Homzie
In my multi-genre thesis Bullying: The Origin, Escalation and Extinguishing of an Age-Old Behavioral Problem, I choose to examine the ways in which bullying is presented in children’s literature. The nuances I found in bullying range from teasing, blaming, sibling rivalry, and name-calling to actual destruction of property and physical assault that children witnessed in adults and then recreated.
My project began with writing a historic young adult novel, Entanglement, 1973, which takes place in Concord, Massachusetts. The girls’ high school volleyball team was on the path to winning the State Championship for the third year consecutively. The bullying was the usual high school snobbery, teasing about lesbianism in sports, and attempted date rape. Midway through, I realized children need to be able to identify bullies and bullying behavior at a far younger age than high school. I switched gears to create picture books that would ICE out bullying behavior (IDENTIFY the behavior, but also encourage children to CALL IT OUT and EDUCATE young readers about it).
Three picture books, a transitional reader, and the first chapter of a middle-grade reader complete the project, along with an excerpt from my memoir on converting to Judaism. The thesis includes: the story of a Down Syndrome princess, an animal marching band, a grizzly bear cub who helps a disabled cub find her name, a young fox away from home for the first time and afraid of the dark, and a raccoon who engages in sorcery to save a young boy who is being beaten with a leather belt. These stories present many different types of bullying to which children can be subjected. My hope is that writing these stories for younger readers will allow them to realize they are not alone when they are placed in a situation with a bully.
Shutts, Cynthia S., "Bullying: The Origin, Escalation and Extinguishing of an Age-Old Behavioral Problem" (2023). Children's Literature (MFA) Theses, Hollins University. 16.
The purpose of preserving this thesis document is to provide a definitive record of student progress upon completion of the degree. This text will not reflect any revisions to the manuscript made after degree completion. For the most current version of the work, please contact its author.