Module Co-ordinator: Dr Jarlath Killeen


Course Summary:

This course will study in detail the idea of the child in Victorian culture, both through texts about children and texts for children, especially focusing on the fiction of the so-called ‘Golden Age’ of children’s literature. We will ask why the child became a figure of such importance for the Victorians, what particular attributes they assigned to her, what function she served in society. Particular attention will be played to questions about the innocence of children, childhood and sexuality, power relations between adults and children, colonialism, gender, religion, history. The course will also facilitate an examination of the issues surrounding the academic study of children’s literature, and its relation to the ‘adult’ canon. We will be considering the various texts individually but also as comprising a recommended reading list for children.


Week One: Introduction.

Week Two: Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist (1837-9).oliver

Week Three: Thomas Hughes, Tom Brown’s Schooldays (1857).

Week Four: R. M. Ballantyne, The Coral Island (1858).

Week Five:  Charles Kingsley, The Water Babies (1863).

Week Six: Christina Rossetti, ‘Goblin Market’ (1862).

Week Seven: Study Weekwater babies

Week Eight: Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865).

Week Nine: George MacDonald, The Princess and the Goblin (1870-71).

Week Ten: Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island (1881-2).

Week Eleven: Oscar Wilde, The Happy Prince and other stories (1888), and A House of Pomegranates (1891).

Week Twelve: J. M. Barrie, Peter Pan and Wendy (1911).