Children's Literature

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1. Introduction3
2. Early History6
The Greek and Roman Eras: 50 B.C.-A.D. 5006
The Middle Ages: 500-15006
The Renaissance: 1500-16507
The Rise of Puritanism and John Locke: Late 1600s8
3. Beginning of Children’s Literature: Late 1700s10
4. Fairy and Folk Tales12
The Golden Age of Children’s Literature: Late 1800s12
5. Victorian Children's Literature16
6. Contemporary Children's Literature18
6. Analysis of Harry Potters’ series21
7. Conclusion30
8. Summary31
Children’s Literature Definitions31
The Ancient World [ancient Rome; 50 BCE to 500 CE]31
The Middle Ages [500 to 1500 CE]31
The European Renaissance [1500-1650 CE]32
The 17th Century34
The 18th and Early 19th Centuries35
The Victorians: The Golden Age36
Twentieth Century: Widening Worlds38
9. Bibliography38

1. Introduction
In 1817 Robert Bloomfield, author of The History of Little Davy’s New Hat, wrote: ‘The longer I live … the more I am convinced of the importance of children’s books.’ That similar statements are still being made two hundred years later shows us how much children’s books have always had to prove in England. And it has been harder still for children’s fantasy, since it supposedly goes against that hearty empiricism which has been as much the hallmark of the standard Englishman as once was his roast beef. Bloomfi eld, after all, was talking about ‘realistic’ children’s books which could be made useful by being directed to the moral and social education of children. Towards the comic or fantastical others he harboured nothing but scorn, and directed parents to put them to the one use for which they were fitted, namely, lighting fires. Like the concept of childhood, children's literature is very much a cultural construct that continues to evolve over time. As a term, “children’s literature” does not easily fit into any cultural or academic category; rather, it is a diverse and paradoxical area of study. Its richness is reflected in the vast amount of theories that permeate and surround the term. From feminist studies to new historicism, literary theory places the child/text/context relationship on varying ideological and political axes. The reconceptualization of its history and the postmodern growth of radical alternative literary “histories” further complicate a retelling of the history of children’s literature. Consequently, it becomes not only a difficult but also a contentious task to both identify general features that constitute children’s literature and trace its history. But it is because its boundaries are so ambiguous that children’s literature is so exciting and rich. Defining children’s literature initially seems simple: literature for children. Yet, identifying the parameters of the term “literature,” as Karin Lesnik-Olberstien observes, has caused “oceans of ink” to be spilt (Hunt 1999). And, crucially, what does it mean “literature for children”? If it is “for” children, is it still a children’s book if it is read by adults or if it is an “adult” book also read by children? Indeed, one of the key problems of defining “children’s literature” is that adult and children’s literature constantly slip into each other. If these two terms present a problem, then “children” alone proves to be equally problematic. Childhood changes from place and time and can be radically different in non-Western counties. If Karin Lesnik-Olberstein is right that children’s literature is a “category of books the existence of which absolutely depends on supported relationships with a particular reading audience: children,” then children’s literature is defined by audience in a way other literature tends not to be (Hunt 1999). Yet if we argue that a recognizable children’s literature requires a recognizable childhood, then children’s literature as a formal category would go back only as far as the eighteenth century when the concept of “childhood” was philosophically created. Children's literature comprises those texts...
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