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Dreaming America

Popular Front Ideals and Aethetics in Children's Plays of the Federal Theatre Project

Dreaming America: Popular Front Ideals and Aesthetics in Children’s Plays of the Federal Theatre Project by Leslie Elaine Frost traces how the tumultuous politics of the late 1930s shaped the stories and staging of federally funded plays for children. Indeed, children’s theater was central to the Federal Theatre Project’s vision of building a national theater. Frost argues that representations of the child and childhood in the FTP children’s plays stage the hopes and anxieties of a nation destabilized by both economic collapse and technological advances. A declining economy and the first stagnant birthrate in three centuries yoked the national economy to the individual family. Profound disagreements over appropriate models of education and parenting, as well as over issues of ethnicity and class, constituted fundamental arguments over democratic values and social norms. Frost locates these plays within the immediate context of the production materials in the FTP archives, as well as within the broader culture of the Great Depression, drawing on disparate primary materials—from parenting magazines to strike literature to political journals—and referencing a range of popular events—from the Joe Louis/Max Schmeling fights to Hollywood movies. As the focus of Depression-era adult anxieties and hopes and as the embodiment of vigor, dynamism, and growth, children carried symbolic value both as the future of America and as the America of the future. Frost examines representative plays’ connections to other media, culture, and politics to situate their singular trajectories in the social history of the Federal Theatre Project and Popular Front culture.

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Eleanor H. Porter's Pollyanna

A Children's Classic at 100

edited by Roxanne Harde and Lydia Kokkola

Appearing first as a weekly serial in The Christian Herald, Eleanor H. Porter’s Pollyanna was first published in book form in 1913. This popular story of an impoverished orphan girl who travels from America’s western frontier to live with her wealthy maternal Aunt Polly in the fictional east coast town of Beldingsville went through forty-seven printings in seven years and remains in print today in its original version, as well as in various translations and adaptations. The story’s enduring appeal lies in Pollyanna’s sunny personality and in her glad game, her playful attempt to accentuate the positive in every situation. In celebration of its centenary, this collection of thirteen original essays examines a wide variety of the novel’s themes and concerns, as well as adaptations in film, manga, and translation.

In this edited collection on Pollyanna, internationally respected and emerging scholars of children’s literature consider Porter’s work from modern critical perspectives. Contributors focus primarily on the novel itself but also examine Porter’s sequel, Pollyanna Grows Up, and the various film versions and translations of the novel. With backgrounds in children’s literature, cultural and film studies, philosophy, and religious studies, these scholars extend critical thinking about Porter’s work beyond the thematic readings that have dominated previous scholarship. In doing so, the authors approach the novel from theoretical perspectives that examine what happens when Pollyanna engages with the world around her—her community and the natural environment—exposing the implicit philosophical, religious, and nationalist ideologies of the era in which Pollyanna was written. The final section is devoted to studies of adaptations of Porter’s protagonist.

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Elusive Childhood

Impossible Representation in Modern Fiction

Elusive Childhood examines how discourse touched by the identity politics of youth might be revised for fairness. Susan Honeyman demonstrates this potential by reading representations of children from throughout the Modern episteme in works of such writers as Henry James, Edith Wharton, and James Baldwin. Identity politics have changed the way we classify literature by opening up the canon, but they have also changed the way we approach literature. We’ve learned to recognize that biology is not destiny—sex doesn’t necessarily determine gender or orientation, nor do fictitious absolutes like blood ratios measure ethnocultural identity, and so in an effort to avoid false generalizing about “others” we endorse individual self-representation, all the while recognizing how society constructs us. But when it comes to representing the position we call childhood, there is little opportunity in legitimated discourse for children’s self-representation and inadequate attention to social constructedness. Recognizing political inequity in literary representations of children, Honeyman proposes a method of reading child figuration in relief to impose as little adult prejudice as possible. This might be impossible for adults, yet it is necessary to attempt.

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Fairy Tales Transformed?

Twenty-First-Century Adaptations and the Politics of Wonder

Cristina Bacchilega

Fairy-tale adaptations are ubiquitous in modern popular culture, but readers and scholars alike may take for granted the many voices and traditions folded into today's tales. In Fairy Tales Transformed?: Twenty-First-Century Adaptations and the Politics of Wonder, accomplished fairy-tale scholar Cristina Bacchilega traces what she terms a "fairy-tale web" of multivocal influences in modern adaptations, asking how tales have been changed by and for the early twenty-first century. Dealing mainly with literary and cinematic adaptations for adults and young adults, Bacchilega investigates the linked and yet divergent social projects these fairy tales imagine, their participation and competition in multiple genre and media systems, and their relation to a politics of wonder that contests a naturalized hierarchy of Euro-American literary fairy tale over folktale and other wonder genres. Bacchilega begins by assessing changes in contemporary understandings and adaptations of the Euro-American fairy tale since the 1970s, and introduces the fairy-tale web as a network of reading and writing practices with a long history shaped by forces of gender politics, capitalism, and colonialism. In the chapters that follow, Bacchilega considers a range of texts, from high profile films like Disney's Enchanted, Guillermo del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth, and Catherine Breillat's Bluebeard to literary adaptations like Nalo Hopkinson's Skin Folk, Emma Donoghue's Kissing the Witch, and Bill Willingham's popular comics series, Fables. She looks at the fairy-tale web from a number of approaches, including adaptation as "activist response" in Chapter 1, as remediation within convergence culture in Chapter 2, and a space of genre mixing in Chapter 3. Chapter 4 connects adaptation with issues of translation and stereotyping to discuss mainstream North American adaptations of The Arabian Nights as "media text" in post-9/11 globalized culture. Bacchilega's epilogue invites scholars to intensify their attention to multimedia fairy-tale traditions and the relationship of folk and fairy tales with other cultures' wonder genres. Scholars of fairy-tale studies will enjoy Bacchilega's significant new study of contemporary adaptations.

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Freud in Oz

At the Intersections of Psychoanalysis and Children’s Literature

Kenneth B. Kidd

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.

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From Birdwomen to Skygirls

American Girls' Aviation Stories

Fred Erisman

Close on the heels of the American public’s early enthusiasm over the airplane came aviation stories for the young. From 1910 until the early 1960s they exalted flight and painted the airplane as the most modern and adventuresome of machines. Most of the books were directed at boys; however, a substantial number sought a girls’ audience. Erisman’s account of the several aviation series and other aviation books for girls fills a gap in the history and criticism of American popular culture. It examines the stories of girls who took to the sky, of the sources where authors found their inspiration, and of the evolution of aviation as an enterprise open to all. From the heady days of early aviation through the glory days of commercial air travel, girls’ aviation books trace American women’s participation in the field. They also reflect changes in women’s roles and status in American society as the sex sought greater equality with men. As aviation technology improves, the birdwomen of the pre-World War I era, capable and independent-minded, give way to individualistic 1930s adventurers patterned on Amelia Earhart, Jacqueline Cochran, and other feminine notables of the air. Their stories lead directly into the coming of commercial air travel. Career stories paint the increasingly glamorous world of the 1940s and 1950s airline stewardess, the unspoken assumptions lying behind that profession, and the inexorable effects of technological and economic change. By recovering these largely forgotten books and the social debates surrounding women’s flying, Erisman makes a substantial contribution to aviation history, women’s history, and the study of juvenile literature. This first comprehensive study of a long-overlooked topic recalls aviation experiences long past and poses provocative questions about Americans’ attitude toward women and how those attitudes were conveyed to the young. Close on the heels of the American public’s early enthusiasm over the airplane came aviation stories for the young. From 1910 until the early 1960s they exalted flight and painted the airplane as the most modern and adventuresome of machines. Most of the books were directed at boys; however, a substantial number sought a girls’ audience. Erisman’s account of the several aviation series and other aviation books for girls fills a gap in the history and criticism of American popular culture. It examines the stories of girls who took to the sky, of the sources where authors found their inspiration, and of the evolution of aviation as an enterprise open to all. From the heady days of early aviation through the glory days of commercial air travel, girls’ aviation books trace American women’s participation in the field. They also reflect changes in women’s roles and status in American society as the sex sought greater equality with men. As aviation technology improves, the birdwomen of the pre-World War I era, capable and independent-minded, give way to individualistic 1930s adventurers patterned on Amelia Earhart, Jacqueline Cochran, and other feminine notables of the air. Their stories lead directly into the coming of commercial air travel. Career stories paint the increasingly glamorous world of the 1940s and 1950s airline stewardess, the unspoken assumptions lying behind that profession, and the inexorable effects of technological and economic change. By recovering these largely forgotten books and the social debates surrounding women’s flying, Erisman makes a substantial contribution to aviation history, women’s history, and the study of juvenile literature. This first comprehensive study of a long-overlooked topic recalls aviation experiences long past and poses provocative questions about Americans’ attitude toward women and how those attitudes were conveyed to the young.

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Gateway to the Modern

Resituating J. M. Barrie

Edited by Valentina Bold and Andrew Nash

J. M. Barrie (1860–1937) is today known almost exclusively for one work: Peter Pan. Yet he was the most successful British playwright of the early twentieth century, and his novels were once thought equal to those of George Meredith and Thomas Hardy. Although in recent years there has been a revival of interest in Barrie’s writing, many critics still fail to include him in surveys of fin de siècle literature or drama. Perhaps Barrie’s remarkable variety of output has prevented him from being taken to the centre of critical discussions in any one area of literary criticism or history. Is Barrie predominantly a novelist or a playwright? Is he Victorian, Decadent, Edwardian or Modernist? Gateway to the Modern is the very first collection of essays on Barrie which attempts to do justice to the extraordinary range of his literary achievement. What emerges is a significant writer, fully immersed in the literary and intellectual culture of his day.

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Grimms' Tales around the Globe

The Dynamics of Their International Reception

Edited by Vanessa Joosen and Gillian Lathey

Grimms’ fairy tales are among the best-known stories in the world, but the way they have been introduced into and interpreted by cultures across the globe has varied enormously. In Grimms’ Tales around the Globe, editors Vanessa Joosen and Gillian Lathey bring together scholars from Asia, Europe, and North and Latin America to investigate the international reception of the Grimms’ tales. The essays in this volume offer insights into the social and literary role of the tales in a number of countries and languages, finding aspects that are internationally constant as well as locally particular. In the first section, Cultural Resistance and Assimilation, contributors consider the global history of the reception of the Grimms’ tales in a range of cultures. In these eight chapters, scholars explore how cunning translators and daring publishers around the world reshaped and rewrote the tales, incorporating them into existing fairy-tale traditions, inspiring new writings, and often introducing new uncertainties of meaning into the already ambiguous stories. Contributors in the second part, Reframings, Paratexts, and Multimedia Translations, shed light on how the Grimms’ tales were affected by intermedial adaptation when traveling abroad. These six chapters focus on illustrations, manga, and film and television adaptations. In all, contributors take a wide view of the tales’ history in a range of locales—including Poland, China, Croatia, India, Japan, and France. Grimms’ Tales around the Globe shows that the tales, with their paradox between the universal and the local and their long and world-spanning translation history, form a unique and exciting corpus for the study of reception. Fairy-tale and folklore scholars as well as readers interested in literary history and translation will appreciate this enlightening volume.

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Hakon of Rogen's Saga

Erik Christian Haugaard

An American Library Association Notable Book and his first book for children, Erik Christian Haugaard’s Hakon of Rogen’s Saga is a remarkable novel that perfectly catches the mood of a harsh but heroic people. Set at the end of the Viking period, it tells of a young boy, Hakon, from the island of Rogen who, after his chieftain father is murdered, undertakes to reclaim his birthright from his treacherous uncle. The illustrations by renowned artists Leo and Diane Dillon make this captivating story come alive.

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Happy Times in Norway

Sigrid Undset


Happy Times in Norway is a moving and delicately humorous picture of Undset’s own blissful home life before her nation fell to the Nazi occupation. Captured here is the excitement of a Norwegian Christmas, the Seventeenth of May, and summer in the idyllic mountains, as well as the chaotic adventure of raising two energetic boys. With vivid detail and illuminating descriptions of the landscape, Happy Times in Norway is infused with the wish that those cherished days could come again.

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