The Cultural Construction of Children's Literature in America
By (author) Beverly Lyon Clark
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Kiddie Lit by Beverly Lyon Clark
Book DescriptionThe popularity of the Harry Potter books among adults and the critical acclaim these young adult fantasies have received may seem like a novel literary phenomenon. In the nineteenth century, however, readers considered both Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn as works of literature equally for children and adults; only later was the former relegated to the category of "boys' books" while the latter, even as it was canonized, came frequently to be regarded as unsuitable for young readers. Adults-women and men-wept over Little Women. And America's most prestigious literary journals regularly reviewed books written for both children and their parents. This egalitarian approach to children's literature changed with the emergence of literary studies as a scholarly discipline at the turn of the twentieth century. Academics considered children's books an inferior literature and beneath serious consideration. In Kiddie Lit, Beverly Lyon Clark explores the marginalization of children's literature in America-and its recent possible reintegration-both within the academy and by the mainstream critical establishment. Tracing the reception of works by Mark Twain, Louisa May Alcott, Lewis Carroll, Frances Hodgson Burnett, L. Frank Baum, Walt Disney, and J. K. Rowling, Clark reveals fundamental shifts in the assessment of the literary worth of books beloved by both children and adults, whether written for boys or girls. While uncovering the institutional underpinnings of this transition, Clark also attributes it to changing American attitudes toward childhood itself, a cultural resistance to the intrinsic value of childhood expressed through sentimentality, condescension, and moralizing. Clark's engaging and enlightening study of the critical disregard for children's books since the end of the nineteenth century-which draws on recent scholarship in gender, cultural, and literary studies- offers provocative new insights into the history of both children's literature and American literature in general, and forcefully argues that the books our children read and love demand greater respect.
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Book DetailsISBN: 9780801881701
(229mm x 152mm x 18mm)
Imprint: Johns Hopkins University Press
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Publish Date: 23-Dec-2004
Country of Publication: United States
Books By Author Beverly Lyon Clark
Afterlife of 'Little Women', Hardback (December 2014)
Written in an accessible narrative style, The Afterlife of Little Women speaks to scholars, librarians, and devoted Alcott fans.
LITTLE WOMEN and THE FEMINIST IMAGINATION, Paperback (May 2014)
Raising key questions about race, class, sexuality, age, material culture, intellectual history, pedagogy, and gender, this book explores the myriad relationships between feminist thinking and Little Women.
Louisa May Alcott, Paperback (July 2010)
This collection of nineteenth-century reviews provides a wealth of information for scholars interested in Alcott.
Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Paperback (February 2007)» View all books by Beverly Lyon Clark
The text of this Norton Critical Edition is based, with typesetting errors corrected, on the first U.S. edition (1876), the most authoritative of the editions published in Twain's lifetime.
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Author Biography - Beverly Lyon Clark
Beverly Lyon Clark is the A. Howard Meneely Professor of English at Wheaton College and coeditor (with Margaret Higonnet) of Girls, Boys, Books, Toys: Gender in Children's Literature and Culture, also available from Johns Hopkins.
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