Freud in Oz
At the Intersections of Psychoanalysis and Children’s Literature
Publication Year: 2011
Children’s literature has spent decades on the psychiatrist’s couch, submitting to psychoanalysis by scores of scholars and popular writers alike. Freud in Oz turns the tables, suggesting that psychoanalysts owe a significant and largely unacknowledged debt to books ostensibly written for children. In fact, Kenneth B. Kidd argues, children’s literature and psychoanalysis have influenced and interacted with each other since Freud published his first case studies.
In Freud in Oz, Kidd shows how psychoanalysis developed in part through its engagement with children’s literature, which it used to articulate and dramatize its themes and methods, turning first to folklore and fairy tales, then to materials from psychoanalysis of children, and thence to children’s literary texts, especially such classic fantasies as Peter Pan and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. He traces how children’s literature, and critical response to it, aided the popularization of psychoanalytic theory. With increasing acceptance of psychoanalysis came two new genres of children’s literature—known today as picture books and young adult novels—that were frequently fashioned as psychological in their forms and functions.
Freud in Oz offers a history of reigning theories in the study of children’s literature and psychoanalysis, providing fresh insights on a diversity of topics, including the view that Maurice Sendak and Bruno Bettelheim can be thought of as rivals, that Sendak’s makeover of monstrosity helped lead to the likes of the Muppets, and that “Poohology” is its own kind of literary criticism—serving up Winnie the Pooh as the poster bear for theorists of widely varying stripes.
Published by: University of Minnesota Press
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Introduction: Reopening the Case of Peter Pan
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The serious study of children’s literature,” writes Michael Egan in a 1982 essay on Peter Pan, “may be said to have begun with Freud” (37). Freud was interested in a genre now firmly associated with childhood, the fairy tale, and thanks to his encouragement, “almost every single major psychoanalyst wrote at least one paper applying psychoanalytic theory to ...
1. Kids, Fairy Tales, and the Uses of Enchantment
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The idea that the fairy tale is an appropriate narrative genre for children predates psychoanalysis, but psychoanalysis nurtured that idea, building upon existing associations of childhood and primitive/folk culture. Psychoanalytic advocacy for the fairy tale began long before Bruno Bettelheim made the case in ...
2. Child Analysis, Play, and the Golden Age of Pooh
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In a provocative essay about theory and psychoanalysis, Michael Payne likens scenes of child sexual curiosity in Freud’s 1908 The Sexual Theories of Children (1963d) to chapter 7 of A. A. Milne’s 1926 Winnie-the-Pooh, about the alarming arrival of Kanga and Baby Roo in the 100 Aker Wood. “The subsequent, charming conversation among Pooh, Piglet, and Rabbit,” writes ...
3. Three Case Histories Alice, Peter Pan, and The Wizard of Oz
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Jacqueline Rose’s The Case of Peter Pan (1984) is not only the best-known theoretical statement on children’s literature; it is also the best-known example of what we might call literary-critical case writing: the building of an argument or analysis around a single text, usually literary, and in this instance a text for children. Rose was not the first to practice such case writing. We recall Crews’s ...
4. Maurice Sendak and Picturebook Psychology
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In 1963, humorist Louise Armstrong and illustrator Whitney Darrow Jr. published a picturebook entitled A Child’s Guide to Freud. Dedicated to “Sigmund F., A Really Mature Person,” A Child’s Guide to Freud is a send-up of Freudian ideas, pitched to adults and specifically to upper-middle-class New Yorkers. Armstrong was a confirmed Manhattanite and Darrow a longtime New Yorker cartoonist and children’s book ...
5. “A Case History of Us All”: The Adolescent Novel before and after Salinger
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Like the adolescent, the adolescent novel has long been understood as a psychological form. This chapter historicizes the psychologization of adolescence and its literature, beginning not with the so-called problem novel for teenagers in the 1960s and 1970s,1 a familiar starting place, but rather much earlier, with the foundational work of G. Stanley Hall. I identify three major stages in the psychologization of the ...
6. T Is for Trauma: The Children’s Literature of Atrocity
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Since the late 1980s and early 1990s, children’s texts about trauma, and especially the traumas of the Holocaust, have proliferated. Despite the difficulties of representing the Holocaust, or perhaps because of them, there seems to be consensus now that children’s literature is the most rather than the least appropriate forum for trauma work. Thus in “A New Algorithm in Evil: Children’s Literature in a Post-Holocaust ...
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I am grateful to the many people who helped make this book a reality. Top billing goes to my dreamy partner Martin Brooks Smith, whose love is deeply sustaining. Much gratitude also to Carolyn, Allison, Dylan, Austin, Jason, Rosie, and Lou, for welcoming me into the family. My parents, Byron and Doris, gave me ridiculous amounts of ...
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Page Count: 336
Publication Year: 2011