Concepts of Childhood and the History of Children’s Literature

This course is intended to introduce students to historical and cultural developments of British and American children’s literature from its beginning in folklore to the twentieth century.

The focus of this class is set on the ways in which children’s literature either reinforces or subverts the values and standards for the periods it was written in. The course will examine the changing concept of childhood, the development of a children’s book market and how children’s texts reveal a society’s deep-seated concerns about gender roles, race and class.

The class will deal with texts from the seventeenth to the twentieth century that were either written specifically for children or widely read by children. The course will furthermore introduce students to a variety of critical approaches to children’s literature and examine the developments of the criticism of children’s literature as an academic field.