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Topic 3 Children’s Literature and Criticism in the 1980s Chia-yen Ku 古佳艷 National Taiwan University Two Essays 1. “Taking Political Stock: New Theoretical and Critical Approaches to Anglo-American Children’s Literature in the 1980s.” by Jack Zipes. The Lion and the Unicorn 14 (1990): 7-22. 2. “Of Elephants and Ducks.” The Empire’s Old Clothes. By Ariel Dorfman. New York: Pantheon, 1983. Jack Zipes Retired professor of German at the Minnesota University Taking Political Stock • 1970s: journals, research societies, improvement of quality in research of children’s literature • Ideological shift in the criticism of children’s literature • “radical” efforts of critics of the 1980s Polarization & Intense Debate • Neil Postman, The Disappearance of Childhood (1982) • Marie Winn, Children without Childhood (1981) Fred Inglis, The Promise of Happiness: Value and Meaning in Children’s Fiction (1981). • How to make value judgment about children’s literature? -F.R. Leavis -Stendhal -Ernst Bloch • Follower of the enlightened critics of the late 18th century? Not exactly: Inglis accepts fantasy and is against censorship Ariel Dorfman, The Empire’s Old Clothes (1983) -Ariel Dorfman, How to read Donald Duck: Imperialist Ideology in the Disney Comic (1975) -Marxist approach -in the manner of Roland Barthes: to expose the myths by which we govern our lives as socially constructed fictions that have strong ideological ramifications -mass media “leaves hardly any space for interpretation by the audience” (179). Manipulation of the Child • Geoffrey Summerfield, Fantasy and Reason (1984) • Mary V. Jackson, Engines of Instruction, Mischief, and Magic (1989). Representation of the Child • Juliet Dusinberre, Alice to the Lighthouse (1987) • New aesthetics and attitude • Carroll’s Alice books: introduces innovative manner of addressing children radical experiments of Virginia Woolf’s novels “N/ever Written for Children” • Jacqueline Rose, The Case of Peter Pan (1984). • Manipulation of the child as reader • Problematic relationship between adult and child Subversive Quality • Alison Lurie, Don’t Tell the Grown-ups (1990). • Children’s literature of the 20th century endeavored to undermine the accepted social and aesthetic standards of their day Zipes’ Conclusion Issue neglected in criticism of the 1980s • Reception and distribution • Mass media and children’s literature • Empirical studies “Of Elephants and Ducks” • Ariel Dorfman: Chilean-American novelist, playwright, essayist, and human rights activist; son of Argentine economist Adolfo Dorfman • Babar books & TV cartoon series youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mMtO_oWdnu8 From Elephants to Ducks • De Brunhoff’s Babar – Babar’s history = the dominant countries’ colonial dream – Disappearance of violence, slavery, plundering, and HUNTER – Europeanization • Disney’s Donald Duck – Within the limits of paternal authority – Constant innocentization of all aspects of life Further Readings Bacon, Betty. How Much Truth Do We Tell the Children? The Politics of Children’s Literature. Minneapolis: MEP Publications, 1988. Postman, Neil. The Disappearance of Childhood. New York: Delacorte, 1982. Winn, Marie. Children without Childhood. New York: Pantheon, 1983. Dorfman, Ariel and Armand Mattelart. How to Read Donald Duck: Imperialist Ideology in the Disney Comic. London: International General, 1975. ---. The Empire’s Old Clothes: What the Lone Ranger, Babar, and Other Innocent Heroes Do to Our Minds. New York: Pantheon, 1983. Dusinberre, Juliet. Alice to the Lighthouse: Children’s Literature and Radical Experiments in Art. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1987. Inglis, Fred. The Promise of Happiness: Value and Meaning in Children’s Fiction. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1981. Jackson, Mary V. Engines of Instruction, Mischief, and Magic: Children’s Literature in England from Its Beginnings to 1839. Lincoln: University of Nebraska P, 1989. Lurie, Alison. Don’t Tell the Grown-Ups: Subversive Children’s Literature. Boston: Little, Brown, 1990. Summerfield, Geoffrey. Fantasy and Reason: Children’s Literature in the Eighteenth Century. London: Methuen, 1984.
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