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This class focuses on literature written or adapted for children from the late seventeenth century to the present, concentrating on issues such as changing accounts of childhood and education, changing assumptions about the child as reader, moral instruction, pleasure, genre, literary form, and gender. The class examines some of the most influential examples of children's fiction through the period alongside key philosophical texts such as Locke's Some Thoughts Concerning Education (1693) and Rousseau's Emile (1762).
There has recently been an explosion of adult interest, both academic and popular, in children's literature. As well as allowing our students to pursue this interest, this class will also investigate this phenomenon. Its primary purpose, however, is to ask whether the theoretical and critical skills that students have developed in other classes are appropriate to, or need to be adapted for, the analysis of literature written for children. The class will be of general interest, but may be particularly useful for students intending to go on to be teachers of literature in schools.
Studying children's literature at Strathclyde is particularly appropriate since the Jordanhill section of the University of Strathclyde Library contains the largest collection of contemporary children's books in Scotland, with some 15,000 volumes. In addition, both the Main Library and the Jordanhill Library contain substantial collections of secondary criticism and scholarship on children's literature. We also subscribe to all the major journals devoted to Children's Literature. Further potential resources include the National Library in Edinburgh, whose substantial collection of children's books includes the Eudo Mason Collection (c.3,600 volumes) and the Lauriston Castle Collection (c.11,000 volumes), and the Museum of Childhood in Edinburgh, which has about 11,000 children's books from the early nineteenth century.
By the end of this class, you ought to have developed the following knowledges and skills:
· a knowledge of the historical 'canon' or 'tradition' of children’s literature in English from the late seventeenth century to the present, and of the way that canon or tradition is made, re-made, and challenged;
· an understanding of the changing philosophical and cultural representations of childhood through the period and their impact on, or exploration in, literature written or adapted for children;
· an understanding of the different genres of children’s literature;
· an understanding of how children’s literature is organised into different age brackets, and of the implications of this;
· an understanding of the role of children’s literature in the formation of identity, and of how this differs historically and according to gender, class, and so on;
· an understanding of the child as reader and of the role children’s literature plays in the formation of adult 'literary competence';
· an understanding of the debates regarding children’s literacy and education, especially the question of whether childhood literacy constitutes a process of 'colonisation' or of 'liberation';
· the ability to employ these knowledges and skills in analysing and discussing the set texts in group work and in written essays and exams;
the ability to adapt these knowledges and skills in pursuing independent research and analysis of children’s texts of your own choice.
This class will explore children's literature from the late seventeenth century to the present, concentrating on issues such as the changing account of childhood and education, changing assumptions about the child as reader, moral instruction, pleasure, genre, literary form, and gender. The class will involve examining some of the most influential examples of children's literature through the period, especially some of the major classics of the nineteenth end twentieth centuries.
For further information about the Children's Literature class, please contact Dr Tom Furniss at email@example.com