What you will study
Language, literature and childhood is ideal if you’re interested in the disciplines of English language and/or applied linguistics, English literature, and childhood studies. You may have studied one or more of these areas previously, but we will provide support if you have not studied these subjects before.
The module is organised into four blocks, each with a particular focus:
Block 1: Contexts and Readers
This introductory block invites you to ask questions such as: How do children acquire and use languages and literacies? Why (and how) is language important in children's literature? What is the difference between literature for children and literature for adults? Why (and how) is literature important for children and young adults? How is childhood socially constructed? And how is the child represented in literature?
Block 2: Voice, Representation and Identity
In Block 2, you’ll study a diverse range of texts for children and young adults, including video games and digital media, non-fiction, narrative fiction and poetry. You’ll consider issues such as ‘What do adult writers expect from their child readers?’ ‘How do texts for children challenge or maintain representations of social groups and communities?’ and ‘What tools and techniques do writers for children draw on in their work’.
Block 3: Practices and Performance
Block 3 is designed to expand your understanding of ‘what counts’ as literature or as reading. You’ll focus on the practices of children or of those who seek to delight and/or instruct children. A recurring theme is the ‘struggle’ between adult- and child-directed practices: this builds on ideas around child agency and relates to the fundamental tensions between instruction and delight in children’s literature.
Block 4: Trends and Futures
In Block 4, you’ll explore how trends in texts produced for children emerge and change. You’ll reflect on the role of storytelling for social change and you’ll consider the role of the publishing, creative and media industries in shaping trends and futures.
You will learn
This module requires you to critically engage with different theoretical and analytic approaches to texts, practices, positions and ideas associated with children and childhood. You’ll develop skills in synthesising information and ideas from a variety of sources and in evaluating critically opposing positions. You’ll also acquire the knowledge, concepts, theories, terminology and skills to articulate considered arguments concerning the nature, contexts, and diversity of writing for, with and by children and their associated practices of reading and writing.
This module will be particularly useful for anyone considering a career in teaching at primary or secondary level, working as a school librarian or employment in children’s writing or publishing.