The Mighty Child

Time and power in children's literature

| University of Cambridge
ISBN 9789027201584 | EUR 95.00 | USD 143.00
ISBN 9789027269157 | EUR 95.00 | USD 143.00
The Mighty Child offers an existentialist approach to the theorization and criticism of children’s literature, nuancing the academic claim that children’s literature, specifically defined as ‘didactic’, alienates childhood from adulthood and disempowers its implied child reader. This volume recentres the theoretical debate around the constructions of time and power which characterize conceptions of childhood and adulthood in children’s literature. The ‘hidden’, didactic adult of children’s literature, this volume argues, is not solely the dictatorial planner of the child’s future, but also a disempowered entity, yearning for unpredictability in the semi-educational, semi-aesthetic endeavor of the children’s book. Leaning on current work in the field of children’s literature theory, on French phenomenological existentialism, and on the philosophy and sociology of childhood, The Mighty Child is addressed to contemporary theorists and critics of children’s literature.
Publishing status: Available
Table of Contents
Table of figures
Part I. Time
From puer aeternus to puer existens: The advent of the child “thrown forth”
Childhood and the future
Part II. Otherness
“Gaps”, desire, and the didactic discourse
Problems of others
Part III. Commitment
“An exigence and a gift” Committed children’s literature
The pedagogical romance
Name index
First names index
Subject index
Nouns index
“Clementine Beauvais has produced a remarkable book. The Mighty Child is at once perceptive, philosophical, sophisticated and engaging. Her existentialist approach is applied to a fascinating body of 'committed' children's books produced in the West since 1950 to produce readings that illuminate the paradoxes of power and ambivalence about the future in much writing for children. This is a book that shows the value of children's literature as a primary source for scholars working in many fields. It is also a deeply optimistic book that points to the potential for positive change through the literature of childhood.”
The Mighty Child is an impressive book which makes an important and innovative contribution to its field. Its theorisation of existentialism and children’s literature is lucidly written, and its theoretical understanding and arguments are astute. Providing new and significant analysis of the texts it considers, this is a work that promises to become essential reading for those interested in theoretical approaches to children’s literature.”
“The Mighty Child’s reading of time and power in children’s literature redefines basic concepts of children’s literature studies, such as the child, adult, didacticism or hope, and marks new pathways for children’s literature scholarship and criticism. Its coherent, informed and lucid confronting and merging of existentialist writings with recent children’s literature criticism and divergent children’s literature texts – from classics to recent work, from novels to poetry, from picturebooks to crossover literature – can be seen as a demonstration of one of the multiple intellectually stimulating directions which children’s literature studies might take if they dare to try. Future theoretical and historical testing of its arguments and conclusions, their development, confirmation or rejection, will hopefully have the same revealing effect.”


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No author info given
2018.  In An Ecology of the Russian Avant-Garde Picturebook [Children’s Literature, Culture, and Cognition, 9], Crossref logo
Beauvais, Clémentine
2019. Is There a Text in This Child? Childness and the Child-Authored Text. Children's Literature in Education 50:1  pp. 60 ff. Crossref logo
Beauvais, Clémentine
2020.  In Literary Cultures and Twenty-First-Century Childhoods,  pp. 57 ff. Crossref logo
Butler, Catherine
2021. Lost Futures: Reading, Memory, and Repression. International Research in Children's Literature 14:2  pp. 156 ff. Crossref logo
Deszcz-Tryhubczak, Justyna & Irena Barbara Kalla
2021.  In Children’s Literature and Intergenerational Relationships,  pp. 1 ff. Crossref logo
Dziri, Nourhene
2021. Adultism at the Root of Youth Maltreatment in A. S. King’s Still Life with Tornado. Children's Literature in Education Crossref logo
Huda, Miftakhul Huda, Abdul Syukur Ghazali, Wahyudi Iswanto & Muakibatul Hasanah
2019. Cognitive Level of Characters in the Indonesian Novel As a Source of Learning. Journal for the Education of Gifted Young Scientists  pp. 931 ff. Crossref logo
Joosen, Vanessa
2020. Just Listen? Silence, Silencing, and Voice in the Aesthetics, Reception, and Study of Children's Literature. International Research in Children's Literature 13:Supplement  pp. 111 ff. Crossref logo
Malewski, Anne & Nick Lavery
2021. Jellyfish, Lions, and Ducks: Sideways Spirals of Growth in Lucy Ellmann's Ducks, Newburyport. International Research in Children's Literature 14:3  pp. 299 ff. Crossref logo
Nikolajeva, Maria
2016. Recent Trends in Children's Literature Research: Return to the Body. International Research in Children's Literature 9:2  pp. 132 ff. Crossref logo
Nikolajeva, Maria
2019. What is it Like to be a Child? Childness in the Age of Neuroscience. Children's Literature in Education 50:1  pp. 23 ff. Crossref logo
Plourde, Aubrey
2019. The Innocent Old Way: Reserved Interpretation and Christina Rossetti's “Goblin Market”. PMLA/Publications of the Modern Language Association of America 134:5  pp. 1076 ff. Crossref logo
Veldhuizen, Vera Nelleke
2021. Narrative Ethics in Robert Westall’s The Machine Gunners. Children's Literature in Education 52:1  pp. 3 ff. Crossref logo
Waller, Alison & Sarah Falcus
2021. Life Stages. International Research in Children's Literature 14:3  pp. 245 ff. Crossref logo

This list is based on CrossRef data as of 16 october 2021. Please note that it may not be complete. Sources presented here have been supplied by the respective publishers. Any errors therein should be reported to them.

Subjects & Metadata

Literature & Literary Studies

Theoretical literature & literary studies
BIC Subject: CFG – Semantics, Pragmatics, Discourse Analysis
BISAC Subject: LIT009000 – LITERARY CRITICISM / Children's & Young Adult Literature
ONIX Metadata
ONIX 2.1
ONIX 3.0
U.S. Library of Congress Control Number:  2014034040 | Marc record