Research Output

“Here’s looking at you, kid.’’ From Big Brother to Big Brother: teenagers under surveillance

  This chapter discusses the ways in which the young adult author, Melvin Burgess, engages with the theme of surveillance. It will focus on his 2006 novel, Sara's Face, arguing that this novel critically explores dicsourses regarding teenage girls' relationships with the media and celebrity culture. In so doing, Burgess moves away from Orwellian narratives which overtly warn children about the invasiveness of surveillance as a means of totalitarian control. Instead, he represents the teenage protagonist, Sara, as capable of manipulating what John Edward McGrath (2004. 2) calls "surveillance space." Here such a space is situated in people's consumption of mass entertainment and popular media texts. Burgess argues that young people are aware of the tensions around media and are capable of understanding and manipulating such spaces themselves. In this assertion, Burgess is offering an innovative approach to articulating the relationship between young people and contemporary media forms.

  • Type:

    Book Chapter

  • Date:

    30 November 2011

  • Publication Status:


  • Library of Congress:

    PZ Childrens literature

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    800 Literature, rhetoric & criticism

  • Funders:

    Historic Funder (pre-Worktribe)


Sambell, K. (2011). “Here’s looking at you, kid.’’ From Big Brother to Big Brother: teenagers under surveillance. In Ní Bhroin, C. & Kennon, P. (Eds.). What do we tell the children? : critical essays on children's literature, 182-195. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. ISBN 9781443837880



Children's literature, history and criticism.

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