Kerry Mallan

Kerry Mallan

When an individual is faced with inadequate knowledge about another, then he/she may compensate by supplying what is imagined to be true. As society has become more technologically advanced, mobile, and networked, there is increased interaction between strangers as well as friends, especially through social networking and other interactive technologies. In a networked world, “disinformation” has taken on a new turn with respect to the potential of social networking sites and mobile technologies to spread malicious gossip targeting an individual, group, or organisation, as well as revealing political and personal secrets and information. Disinformation is a neologism to stand for the spreading of false information to hurt adversaries.

This paper takes as its focus the idea of disinformation. My argument is that children’s literature along with other forms of children’s media employs disinformation (or lies, gossip, and other harmful stories) as a narrative strategy to draw readers into the moral or ethical dimension of this practice of telling lies. Drawing on recent examples, this paper will consider how texts written for young people engage in contemporary debates and anxieties about privacy, disinformation, and matters of personal security. These texts resonate with contemporary concerns about the ability of new information and communication technologies to pierce previously impenetrable physical, personal, and social boundaries.

Kerry Mallan is a Professor in the Faculty of Education at Queensland University of Technology (QUT), Australia. She is also the Director of the multidisciplinary, multifaculty Children and Youth Research Centre at QUT. Kerry has published widely in children’s literature. Her most recent sole authored book is Gender Dilemmas in Children’s Fiction (2009). She has co-edited with Clare Bradford a collection of essays entitled Contemporary Children’s Literature and Film: Engaging with Theory (2011). Her latest book project is Secrets, Lies and Children’s Fiction (expected date of publication is 2013).

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