Children’s Literature

Through the second half of the nineteenth and the first half of the twentieth century, a canon of “classic” texts for children took shape. This course will invite you to (re)encounter a variety of celebrated children’s books drawn from England and Europe. You will absorb yourselves again in such classics as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, The Wind in the Willows, or Treasure Island, or The Little Prince  — as well as perhaps meet for the first time Tove Jansson’s Moomintroll family, or see what else Astrid Lidgren has written beyond Pippi Longstocking, or where Michael Ende’s The Neverending Story leads.  Many of these books have not only been read by millions of children and adults, they have also been adapted, parodied, and recycled—transformed into movies, musical works, television shows, and so on. Why do we keep telling these particular stories over and over again? What does their popularity tell us about the history of childhood and its representation? As we study these and other influential works of art starring children, we will ask: What images of the child emerge out of these texts? What makes such images culturally appealing?