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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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