Time & History in Children’s Literature

We asked Clare Walters, one of our MA in Children’s Literature alumna, to write about her experience auditing the Time and History module taught by Dr Lisa Sainsbury in Spring 2015.

All Things Must Pass

A reflection on the Time and History module for the Children’s Literature MA

Audited and reviewed by Clare Walters

The module began with a discussion of what might be meant by ‘historical fiction’. We loosely defined it as books that, at the time they were published, engaged with the past, often mixing in real historical characters with fictional ones. We noted that the nineteenth century texts – The Children of the New Forest and Kidnapped – reflected a fairly stable view of British history, but acknowledged that these books are now viewed in a different light. They are ‘doubly’ historical in that, being read years after first publication, they can reveal more about the time they were written than the period they describe. This was true even of the mid-twentieth century novel The Eagle of the Ninth.

A number of questions were posed of each text. Could a particular ideological framework could be identified, or a didactic purpose revealed? Were authenticity and accuracy of primary importance? And who was the implied reader? We applied these questions to fictional histories, too – those first-person novels where the narrative framework relies on an individual’s (potentially unreliable) memory, such as The Stonebook Quartet, Issac Campion and Code Name Verity. We discussed the inclusion of historical objects in fiction and asked whether these could provide continuity to the present; and we debated the role of images in the historical picturebook Rose Blanche.

Around Week Five the focus changed to the time-slip novels Charlotte Sometimes, A Stitch in Time and Midwinterblood, where the action shifts between various time frames. In these books less emphasis is placed on the historical and more on the personal. The text becomes an emotional dialogue between past and present, and there is often interplay between a linear structure of time (chronos), and a more mythical sense of time, in which significant moments repeat themselves (kairos).

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Travels in Children’s Literature

We asked two of the current students of the MA in Children’s Literature, Judith Digby and Katharina Schaefers, to write about their experiences from the Travels in Children’s Literature module taught by Dr Alison Waller in Spring 2015.

As part of the MA in Children’s Literature, the Travel in Children’s Literature module aims to ‘examine the importance of travel and journeys in classic and contemporary children’s literature. Through texts such as the seminal Gulliver’s Travels and more recent books such as The White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean, students will explore the role of literary children as explorers and adventurers, but also as refugees, migrants, tourists, and students of the world. From accounts of personal odysseys to stories of historical or fantastic voyages, the texts studied will raise questions about how children can move through geographical and imaginative space, as well as issues of nation, race and culture.’

To find out more about Travels in Children’s Literature or the MA/PGDip programme, read Judith and Katharina’s reviews below and consider attending the NCRCL Open Day or Virtual Open Day 2015.

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Distance Learning MA Children’s Literature – Virtual Open Day

Our third Virtual Open Day for the MA in Children’s Literature by distance learning was held last Thursday. Individuals from the UK to Azerbaijan joined Laura Atkins and I for a fun event to learn more about the programme and the NCRCL.

Alison Waller talking about the Children's Literature MA by distance learning

We introduced everyone to the team and demonstrated the different teaching methods and tools on the MA. Laura spoke about some of the methods available, including ‘British Children’s Literature 1900-1960’, ‘Visual Texts’ and the new creative ‘Writing for a Child Audience’ module.

If you couldn’t attend the event, there is a recording of the session available now available to watch online. There are a few technical issues throughout, but it will give you a sense of what went on. Just follow these steps:

  • Follow this link and wait for the WebEx Player to load:
  • Before you start watching, go to the top Menu and click on ‘View’ – make sure that ‘Chat’, ‘Video’, ‘Participants’, and ‘Playback Tools’ are all ticked.
  • Watch until time 1.02.30

More details about the distance learning MA and PGDip can be found on the Virtual Open Day website. You can also get in touch with current students on the programme to ask more about the distance learning experience by clicking on the ‘Ask a Student’ button and registering quickly

Many thanks to all those who took part – and look out for more events in the future!

Stop Press: MA Bursaries

The NCRCL is offering two Children’s Literature MA bursaries of £1,500 each (one for the on-site programme and one for the distance learners).

This is an exciting opportunity to come and study one of the highly respected and challenging postgraduate programmes run by the NCRCL. The bursaries are open to UK/EU and international applicants, full and part-time. They will be awarded to individuals who demonstrate the potential for excellence. The deadline for bursary applications is 31 July 2012 and more information can be found here: http://www.roehampton.ac.uk/Research-Centres/National-Centre-for-Research-in-Children-s-Literature/

Children’s Literature MA by distance learning – Virtual Open Day

We recently held another Virtual Open Day for the MA in Children’s Literature by distance learning here at the NCRCL. Individuals from across the UK, Europe and from as far as China and Pakistan joined Liz Thiel and I for a fun event to learn more about the programme and the NCRCL.

Virtual Open Day 2012

Alison Waller talking about the NCRCL at the Virtual Open Day

We introduced everyone to the team and showed off some of our excellent online children’s literature resources. Liz also had fun giving a mini-tutorial on Mary Sherwood’s The History of the Fairchild Family.

If you couldn’t attend the event, there is a recording of the session available now available to watch online. Just follow these steps:

  • Follow this link and wait for the WebEx Player to load:
  • Before you start watching, go to the top Menu and click on ‘View’ – make sure that ‘Chat’, ‘Video’, ‘Participants’, and ‘Playback Tools’ are all ticked.

More details about the distance learning MA and PGDip, including the application process and fees, can be found on the Virtual Open Day website.

Many thanks to all those who took part – and look out for more events in the future!

Virtual Open Day for the distance learning MA

You are invited to participate in Roehampton’s MA/PGDip Children’s Literature by Distance Learning virtual open day on Wednesday 18 April 2012 at 18.00GMT. This event will provide you with an overview of the course and give you the chance to tour our online learning environment.

You will also be able to ask any questions you might have about the academic and practical elements of studying at a distance.

To book your place on the virtual open day, please email Miles Shackleton at miles.shackleton@roehampton.ac.uk, providing your full name, country of residence, and date of birth.

More information about this exciting event can be found on our website: http://external.moodle.roehampton.ac.uk/course/view.php?id=5