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EN905 Nineteenth-Century Children's Literature

Module Convenors: Dr Chantal Wright and Dr Laura Wood

Spring Term; Mondays 2-4 p.m.; H501

 

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this module you should have:

1. Become familiar with some of the key texts of nineteenth-century children’s literature

2. Acquired an understanding of the main themes and images of this literature

3. Developed an ability to think critically about texts written for children

4. Enhanced your familiarity with the social and cultural context of nineteenth-century literature

5. Become aware of the main critical debates surrounding the genre

6. Improved your writing and research skills

 

Module Description

This module examines the relationship between entertainment and moralising, the supernatural and child-rearing, innocence and death, the everyday and adventure, being ‘good’ and being punished in Victorian children’s literature. It will explore the connections between texts for children and nineteenth-century approaches to morality and the construction of identity, gender (i.e. gender construction, behavioural stereotypes, sexual conduct), society, and the legacy of this particularly fruitful moment in children's literature. A central theme of the course addresses the importance of childhood innocence to a culture witnessing widespread changes in science, technology, and religion.

 

Texts to buy (note: this may undergo some minor revisions as texts become available or go out of print)

1. Charlotte Yonge, The Daisy Chain (be warned, this is a long book so give yourself plenty of time to read it!!)

2. Thomas Hughes, Tom Brown's School Days

3.Eleanor Sleath, Glenowen 

4. Jean Ingelow, Mopsa the Fairy

3. George MacDonald, At the Back of the North Wind and The Light Princess

4. Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking-Glass

5. Susan Coolidge, What Katy Did

6. Christina Rossetti, Speaking Likenesses

7. Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island

8. Edith Nesbit, The Treasure Seekers and Five Children and It

9. Frances Hodgson Burnett, A Little Princess

There will also be some short secondary reading in the form of handouts.

 

Useful background reading

Peter Hunt, ed., Children’s Literature: An Anthology 1801-1902 (Blackwells)

U.C. Knoepflmacher, Ventures into Childland: Victorians, Fairy Tales, and Femininity (Chicago UP)

Children’s Literature: An Illustrated History, ed. Peter Hunt (Oxford UP)

The Routledge Companion to Children’s Literature, ed. David Rudd (Routledge, 2010)

The Cambridge Companion to Children’s Liertature, eds. M. O. Grenby and A. Immel (Cambridge, 2009)

Sally Shuttleworth, The Mind of the Child: Child Development in Literature, Science, and Medicine, 1840-1900 (Oxford UP, 2010)

Marah Gubar, Artful Dodgers: Reconceiving the Golden Age of Children's Literature (Oxford UP, 2010)

 

Teaching Methods

1. Seminars (weekly, 2 hours)

2. Essay (6000 or 8000 words (depending on CATS points), topic decided in consultation with tutor)

 

Module Requirements

1. Attend seminars, having prepared material in advance

2. Make regular contributions to discussion

3. Deliver at least one in-class presentation of approximately 20 minutes, and prepare and distribute a bibliography of 3-5 key texts

4. Submit one essay

 

Reading Schedule

 

Week 1: Introduction

Selected Grimms' Fairytales (1812)

 Week 2: The Domestic Child

Charlotte Yonge, The Daisy Chain (1856)

 Week 3: School Stories

Thomas Hughes, Tom Brown's School Days (1857)

Week 4: Fantasies of Femininity

Eleanor Sleath, Glenowen (1815), George MacDonald, The Light Princess (1864), Jean Ingelow, Mopsa the Fairy (1869),

Week 5: Fantasy and Appetite

Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking-Glass (1865)

 Week 6: Disability and Morality

George MacDonald, At the Back of the North Wind (1871); Susan Coolidge, What Katy Did (1872)

Week 7: Work and the Market

Christina Rossetti, Speaking Likenesses (1873)

 Week 8: Boyhood, Adventure and Play.

Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island (1883) and his essay 'Child's Play' (handout)

Week 9: The Precocious Imagination

Edith Nesbit, The Treasure Seekers (1899)

Week 10: Further Narratives

Edith Nesbit, Five Children and It (1902); Frances Hodgson Burnett, A Little Princess (1905)