Children's Literature and British Identity: Imagining a People and a Nation

Children's Literature and British Identity: Imagining a People and a Nation

by Rebecca Knuth


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For more than 250 years, English children’s literature has transmitted values to the next generation. The stories convey to children what they should identify with and aspire to, even as notions of “goodness” change over time. Through reading, children absorb an ethos of Englishness that grounds personal identity and underpins national consciousness. Such authors as Lewis Carroll, J. R. R. Tolkien, and J. K. Rowling have entertained, motivated, confronted social wrongs, and transmitted cultural mores in their works—functions previously associated with folklore. Their stories form a new folklore tradition that provides social glue and supports a love of England and English values.

In Children’s Literature and British Identity: Imagining a People and a Nation, Rebecca Knuth follows the development of the genre, focusing on how stories inspire children to adhere to the morals of society. This book examines how this tradition came to fruition, exploring the works of several authors, including:

Robert Baden-Powell
Robert Ballantyne
J. M. Barrie
Enid Blyton
Angela Brazil
Frances Hodgson Burnett
Randolph Caldecott
Lewis Carroll
Roald Dahl
Daniel Defoe
Charles Dickens
Maria Edgeworth
Kenneth Grahame
Kate Greenaway
G. A. Henty
Thomas Hughes
Charles Kingsley
Rudyard Kipling
C.S. Lewis
A. A. Milne
Hannah More
E. Nesbit
John Newbery
George Orwell
Beatrix Potter
Arthur Ransome
Frank Richards
J. K. Rowling
Anna Sewell
Robert Louis Stevenson
J. R. R.Tolkien
P. L. Travers
Sarah Trimmer
Charlotte Yonge

Evaluating the connection between children’s literature and the dissemination and formation of identity, this book will appeal to both general readers and academics who are interested in librarianship, English culture, and children’s literature.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780810885165
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date: 04/12/2012
Pages: 222
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Rebecca Knuth is professor of Library and Information Science at the University of Hawaii. She is an award-winning teacher and has taught children's literature, young-adult literature, and history of the book courses for over 15 years.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Creating “Good” Children
Chapter 2: Socialization: Duty and Self-Sacrifice
Chapter 3: Creating Manliness and the Boy Hero
Chapter 4: Romanticizing Childhood and England
Chapter 5: Being Playful and Emotionally Alive
Chapter 6: Small Adventures and Happiness
Chapter 7: Autonomy and Affirmation
Chapter 8: Into the Story-Pot: Harry and Heroism
Chapter 9: A Modern English Folklore

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