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Early Children's Literature and Culture Chronicle

Newsletter #2; vol. 1

July 2020

Early Children's Literature on Race

The current discussions around racial inequities compel us to search our consciences and to take a hard look at the way we teach. As scholars of early children's literature, we can supply historical context on the ways racism has been passed down to new generations through materials made for children.  A number of scholars have offered guidance.  The rough overview of their recommendations can be seen in the "Full list of sources"; I have also formatted some of the longer pieces into separate entries. 

{The image above is from Rhymes and Pictures ; see details in the Baldwin Collection entry below]

Full list of sources
Baldwin Collection of Historical Children’s Literature

Digital content
Text Available from Google Books Original in The Victoria and Albert Museum
American Antiquarian Society

List of Texts
Laureen Tedesco's Suggestions

Tedesco's Suggestions
Posts on Slavery/African American Lives

If links don't work, see entries in "Full List of Sources" above

Enslaved Nanny Learns to Read

Cotsen Library Blog

Twitter post

Barbados Mercury Gazette

Teen Douglass's inspiration

Cotsen Library Blog

Little Visitors

Osborne Collection Blog

My book Representations of China in British Children’s Fiction, 1851-1911 (Routledge 2013) contains a long list of texts from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries depicting Chinese children.

Some of the books are listed in my blog post on “Representations of China in Historical Children’s Texts” (including missionary publications for children).

blog post

"The Old Unease of Uncle Remus" by Rebecca Bauman

The tales of the fictional slave Uncle Remus are some of the most controversial in American folklore. However, that doesn't diminish their significance to both African American storytelling traditions, as well American cultural history as a whole. This short film offers an overview of Uncle Remus and his creator, Joel Chandler Harris--a man whose work is both admired and compared to the pained follies of a minstrel show.

New and Noteworthy

Alexander, Christine (2018). “In Search of the Authorial Self: Branwell Brontë’s Microcosmic World.” Journal of Juvenilia Studies

Branwell Brontë’s childhood was characterized byimaginative excess and misdirected creativity. His early experiments with miniature magazines and minuscule script suggest the limited world of the child, yet the paracosmic world he and his sisters created is one of vast proportion, with grandiose ideas that both empower and hinder the development of the young writer. This article finds an explanation for Branwell’s eccentric behaviour and increasing inability to distinguish himself from his creation, Northangerland, in a consideration of the paracosm and, in particular, of the developmental problems associated with the idea of “being in a world of one’s own” (Cohen and MacKeith 1). Evidence suggests that Branwell found it hard to cope with ordinary life and the expectations placed upon him as an only boy. Nevertheless, his early magazines, poetry and histories also suggest a playful, agile young mind keen to engage with the world despite his youth.

Friar, Nicola (2019). “A New Approach to Autobiography and Juvenilia.” Journal of Juvenilia Studies

This paper demonstrates how the two ostensibly contradictory concepts of power assumption and autobiography can co-exist simultaneously in paracosmic juvenilia, that of Charlotte Brontë in particular. Many critics assert that marginalized or isolated children use their writings as vehicles with which to assume the kind of power denied to them as minors in reality, whereas others view juvenilia as autobiographical platforms through which children can articulate their experience of the world. However, these theories are not exclusive to juvenilia, nor is the concept of a paracosm, a term which originated in the study of childhood play. Drawing on the work of such critics as Stephen MacKeith, David Cohen, and Christine Alexander, this paper examines Brontë’s Glass Town and Angrian narratives in order to demonstrate that her paracosmic world both distorts and mirrors aspects of herself and to argue accordingly that Brontë’s juvenilia is neither strictly autobiographical nor a vehicle to assume the power denied to her in reality.

CFP and Other Opportunities

Collection of Essays on Early Children's Periodicals

Periodicals written by and for children played a large role in the
development of children's literature, and provide a rare view into the child world of the pre-twentieth century. I am seeking essays for a proposed volume on Early Children's Periodicals; suggested topics include (but are not limited to):
* The evolution of Girls' and Boys' periodicals.
* Amateur periodicals, both hand-drawn and commercially printed.
* Contests and Correspondents.
* Political and religious content.
* The depiction of the natural world.
* Images of children representing diversity of race, class, and identity.
* Visual content.
Please send 300-word abstracts to Katharine Kittredge at by September 1, 2020.

Early Children's Lit

265 Smith Hill Road, Lisle
NY 13797 United States

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