The Courage Of Children In Novels English Literature Essay

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You could consider the following questions. What is meant by 'the courage of children'? Does this, in the Set Books, refer to physical or psychological courage, or both? Do the books present gender differences in their portrayal of courage and, if so, are these significant? How do differing authorial techniques, such as narrative voice, focalisation and intertextuality help determine the readers' awareness of courage? You could also consider the historical context of both novels as part of your discussion.

The critical articles in the Readers, DVD 1 and the DVD-ROM may all provide valuable material for this essay.

Kimberley Reynolds suggests, of the nineteenth century, that 'much fiction was used quite consciously as a form of social control' (DVD 1, no. 5). Investigate and determine how representative Little Women and Treasure Island are of this trend.

Notes on a possible approach

For this option, you might want to explore nineteenth-century ideological viewpoints of concepts such as family, gender, class and religion. It would be valuable to include some brief discussion of other contemporary texts. One possible approach would be to consider the following questions. How do the novels reflect their differing historical contexts? What evidence can be found for authorial intent, and how can differing prose techniques outlined on the DVD-ROM, including narrative voice, intertextuality and focalisation, help us establish authorial intent?

You might find it helpful to revise the material in Activity 1.3 in the Study Guide as a starting point.

Explore Peter Hollindale's claim that Peter Pan 'retains its magical elasticity and its ongoing modernity' (Reader 2, p. 159), with reference to different versions since its original production.

Notes on a possible approach

You could consider some or all of the following questions. Which aspects of the play can be described as particularly 'modern'? How have these been adapted to suit specific productions since the play's original stage setting? How does Barrie's script present opportunities for alteration in relation to differing constructions of childhood? Why is Peter Pan often regarded as a pantomime?

Compare and contrast the idea of fairyland in Peter Pan and in William Allingham's poem The Fairies.

Notes on a possible approach

It may be helpful to concentrate on a small number of specific scenes or extracts from Peter Pan - for example, 1.1 (from line 315, Peter's entrance to the end) or 3.1. You might want to consider the historical and generic context of each of the two texts. Does it matter that one text is a play and the other a poem, in terms of how differently they may have been presented and received?

Activity 3.6 in the Study Guide could be a useful starting point when planning your essay.

Children's perceptions of, and perspectives on, the world around them are often represented by children's writers as inevitably incomplete and therefore flawed. Evaluate this suggestion with reference to any three of the Set Books in Block 4.

Notes on a possible approach

You could consider some or all of the following questions:

How does each author represent the worldview of their child protagonist(s)?

How does the structure of each novel, including such aspects as time-scale, narrative voice, dialogue, and a sense of place, help establish this?

How do your chosen texts present differing, or similar, approaches to realism and aspects of fantasy?

Is there a link between the uses of realism and fantasy, and representations of children's perceptions and perspectives?

Why might it matter if a child's perceptions of, and perspectives on the world around them are represented as flawed?

You may find it useful to revise Part 1, Section 1 'Telling and Showing', and Section 2 'Focalisation', on the DVD-ROM.

Discuss David Rudd's 'defence' of the work of Enid Blyton (Reader 1, pp. 168-82), in relation to the prestige conferred on two of the Set Books for Block 4, one of which must be either Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone or Northern Lights.

Notes on a possible approach

You could consider some or all of the following questions:

What evidence is there for differing assessments of the popularity and quality of both Enid Blyton's work and your two chosen texts?

How can the success of a children's book best be quantified?

What differing views on the nature of childhood can be observed in the chosen books, and do these necessarily represent the times in which they were written?

How have the criteria for judging the merits of children's literature changed since the eighteenth century?

How does the postmodern picturebook set out to capture both the adult and the child reader's interest?

Notes on a possible approach

You could discuss which characteristics of a picturebook might invite the description of 'postmodern' to be applied to it, drawing on a few examples. You could explore how the elements of a picturebook, including text, images, and paratext, combine to create meaning for both the child and adult reader. Is it possible to identify any elements as seemingly designed to appeal to particular age groups

With reference to The Tale of Peter Rabbit and Voices in the Park, explore and evaluate the assertion by William Moebius that the 'best picturebooks can and do portray the intangible and invisible [...], ideas that escape easy definition in pictures or words' (Reader 1, p. 314).

Notes on a possible approach

You could consider, firstly, examples of concepts that might be described as 'intangible and invisible' that are demonstrated in these two books. How do all the elements of these books unite to help create this? How do these help us understand the views of childhood, and of child readers, presented by the authors?

You might wish to include a comparison between the historical contexts of the two books and how to situate each one in relation to children's picturebooks generally

Rachel Falconer states that 'it is important that the books and films [young people] read and watch should address the reality of their lives' (Reader 1, p. 375). Is this view borne out by contemporary writing for children? Discuss with particular reference to three of the Set Books in Block 6.

Notes on a possible approach

You could consider some or all of the following questions. What might the phrase 'the reality of their lives' assume? Can the reality of contemporary life be explored by books set either in the historical past or an imagined future? Do any, or all, of the books you have chosen raise the 'ideological question of what is suitable for children' (Hewings in the Study Guide, p. 259)? Does the provision of a 'convenient exotic background' (Hewings in the Study Guide, p. 265) help child readers to confront difficult concepts, or perhaps hinder them?

Peter Hunt argues that 'while [children's] books reflect the underlying preoccupations of a culture, the most notable ones also challenge and subvert' (Reader 1, p. 72). Discuss this statement, with reference to three of the Set Books in Block 6.

Notes on a possible approach

You might want to consider the following questions. How, if at all, do your chosen books reflect attitudes to childhood currently observable within society? What underlying preoccupations do you find reflected in them? How, if at all, might these books differ from other children's books of their time? Can you identify evidence of the author's 'overt moral intention' (Hewings in the Study Guide, p. 260)? How can authorial choices, such as the use of direct or indirect speech, help influence the ways in which readers respond to the text?

EMA: the assignment

Answer either Option 1 or Option 2.

Your assignment should be a maximum of 3000 words in length, excluding your list of references.

Option 1

'Some idea of a child or childhood motivates writers and determines both the form and content of what they write.' Consider how this statement, from Peter Hunt's first article in Reader 1 (p. 13), applies to any three of the Set Books. Your essay must draw on materials from at least two blocks of EA300.

Option 2

Discuss how the book that has most recently won the UK Carnegie Prize fits into the history and tradition of children's literature. Your discussion should also refer to at least one of the Set Books

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