‘Nineteenth Century Children’s Literature’ Reading List
This module serves two main functions: firstly, to familiarize students with important children’s fiction from the 19th century, including works by Charles Kingsley, Catherine Sinclair, Lewis Carroll, Charlotte Yonge, and Mrs. Ewing.
Secondly, the module addresses theoretical questions to do, for instance, with genre, gender, and class, as well with literary history and period-definitions.
The module therefore aims not just to discuss texts, but also to ask: why these texts? and what is ‘history’? and, perhaps most importantly, what (if any) are the relationships between ‘history’ and the reading of texts?
In other words: this course aims not to teach students what ‘nineteenth century children’s literature’ is, but to ask what it means to group texts together by ‘period’, if, how, and why, that affects critical languages and strategies, and how students might address these questions and issues in their own criticism.
To help consider all these issues, also in possible later PhD research, part of this module introduces students to bibliographical and archive research-skills through the use of the Nineteenth-Century Special Collection of Children’s Books (held at the University’s Museum of Rural Life archive location).
In the later stages of the module, students form smaller groups, and, under guidance from the module tutor and the archivists, choose material from the Special Collection archives themselves on which to prepare a seminar presentation to their group.
Students wishing to prepare for the course could read Rousseau’s Emile in advance. They can also pre-read the passage from The Fairchild Family that is provided on the link below.
Texts read on the course (not necessarily in this order) may include:
J. J. Rousseau, Emile
Mrs Sherwood, The Fairchild Family (for this seminar please read pages 86-90 on the facsimile copy on this website-link)
Charles Kingsley, The Water Babies
Mrs Ewing, The Cuckoo Clock
Catherine Sinclair, Holiday House
Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
Charlotte Yonge, The Daisy Chain
Anna Sewell, Black Beauty
Rudyard Kipling, Stalky & Co and/or The Jungle Books
Edward Lear’s poetry (selected).
'With great support from the tutors and friends I have had a wonderful year in exploring and reconsidering the way I have been thinking all my life. In many ways it is my personal journey during which I have learnt a lot, not only about how to (or not to) find an answer but also about how to raise a question. As an international student I would like to say that the MA is very challenging, yet very liberating.'Sireethorn (Pam) Simawathna, CIRCL MA 2012-13
Dr Evdokia (Kia) Michalopoulou, CIRCL MA, CIRCL PhD
“I thoroughly enjoyed the course. Always challenging, the course approached and encouraged me to deal with many issues in a rigorously academic way. The work on the course was always innovative and now I can see how the course changed the way I can think about problems and solutions in both academic and non-academic contexts. I would recommend this course to anyone who wants to deal with their own and other’s assumptions in a thoughtful and explorative way."Christopher Johnson, CIRCL MA 2015-2016
My one year’s visit in CIRCL is the most rewarding academic experience that I have ever had. I found the [M(Res.)] seminars very stimulating. With “positive reinforcement”, all the participants are encouraged and involved. I am always encouraged and inspired by the discussions that were held in the seminars, which are though-provoking and very interactive, heated sometimes yet always in a very pleasant and harmonious atmosphere. I am greatly indebted to Karin, Neil and Sue for their wonder...JIANG Jianli (Tina), Associate Professor, Qingdao Technological University, China, CIRCL Academic Visiting Fellow 2016-17
'I was nervous doing the course as a part-time student as I worried that I may be at a disadvantage. This was definitely not the case. The course is structured so well, and the support I received from [the MA staff] Karin, Neil and Sue (as well as the other students over both years) ensured that I was given the same opportunities, guidance and experience as everyone else. I have really enjoyed this degree and I can see that it has changed the way I think. I would recommend it to anyone who...Samantha Horsfield, CIRCL MA 2011-13 (part-time)
'The Reading MA in Children's Literature was a stimulating and thoroughly enjoyable experience for me. The course is intellectually demanding and wide-ranging in its approach to the field of children's literature and its cultural context. Though it focuses on the child in literature it is not restrictive. Many of the issues raised during the course of study are pertinent to all kinds of literature. There are ample opportunities for students to engage in discussion and to make their own con...Hilary Fraser, CIRCL MA 1999-2000, CIRCL PhD 2009
Dr Haiya Dong, CIRCL Visiting Scholar 2018-19 Interview
'My undergraduate degree was English Literature with Education Studies at the University of Cambridge and as part of that course I took a module in Children's Literature and absolutely loved it. I therefore decided to research MA courses so that I could further develop my interest. I was advised by my tutors at Cambridge that the most rigorous course was the one offered by the University of Reading and I was thrilled to be offered a place. During the MA the tutors were friendly and support...Hannah Smith (now: Anglin-Jaffe), CIRCL MA 2001-2, CIRCL PhD 2005
'Studying the MA in Children's Literature was an excellent introduction to and preparation for academic practice and further research as it provided me with an opportunity to engage in discussions surrounding the issues addressed by current researchers during CIRCL seminars in a nurturing and supportive environment.'Catrin Edwards, CIRCL MA 2006-7, CIRCL PhD 2010
'Studying the Children’s Literature MA at Reading was a hugely challenging and rewarding experience for me. When I began the course I had no idea how much my own thinking, reading and argument would develop, so much so that by the end I considered continuing with a PhD. A year after completing the MA I won University Studentship funding to undertake a PhD at CIRCL. I would recommend the Children’s Literature MA to anybody who wishes to develop their critical thinking in any subject area, n...Helen Ainslie, CIRCL MA 2004-5, CIRCL PhD 2006-9
The [M(Res)] seminars I attended in CIRCL during my one year’s visit are always inspiring and profound, which have greatly improved my research skills and changed my mindset for doing research in children’s literature. The seminars taught me to find the perspectives in the text we analysed and develop my own judgment, which is the most challenging yet most rewarding thing in doing research. From my own experience as a teacher, such seminars are most effective in forging critical and indepe...XU Derong (David), Associate Professor, Ocean University of China, CIRCL Academic Visiting Fellow, 2016-17
'I gained much more than I had expected from the MA. The course was not just about children's literature; it led me to reconsider the way I read, think, and argue. It prepared me for my PhD research and had an influence on my whole life. I can sincerely say that the MA in Children's Literature at Reading is worth attending, even if you need to travel all the way from the other side of the earth (which is more or less what I did, as an international student).'Yuko Ashitagawa, CIRCL MA 2001-2, CIRCL PhD 2002-5
Lisa Stallard, CIRCL MA 2011-12