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The Edinburgh Companion to Children's Literature

Edited by Clémentine Beauvais, Maria Nikolajeva

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A collection of newly-commissioned essays tracing cutting-edge developments in children’s literature research

Time has passed since ‘having a PhD in children’s literature’ was a funny joke in You’ve Got Mail. Children’s literature research is now one of the most dynamic fields of literary criticism and of education, and has a bright future ahead – as children’s writers and publishers invent yet more forms of literature for young people, and researchers find yet more sophisticated ways of exploring them. This collection takes informed and scholarly readers to the utmost frontier of children’s literature criticism, from the intricate worlds of children’s poetry, picturebooks and video games to the new theoretical constellations of critical plant studies, non-fiction studies and big data analyses of literature.

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Introduction, Maria Nikolajeva and Clémentine Beauvais
Part I: Contemporary directions in children’s literature scholarship
1. Teaching the conflicts: Diverse responses to diverse children’s books, Karen Coats
2. Posthumanism: Rethinking ‘the human’ in modern children’s literature, Victoria Flanagan
3. Animal studies, Zoe Jaques
4. Spatiality in fantasy for children, Jane Carroll
5. A question of scale: Zooming out and zooming in on feminist ecocriticism, Alice Curry
6. Age studies and children’s literature, Vanessa Joosen
7. Carnality in adolescent literature, Lydia Kokkola
8. Cognitive narratology and adolescent fiction, Roberta Seelinger Trites
9. Empirical approaches to place and the construction of adolescent identities, Erin Spring
10. Picturebooks and situated readers: The intersections of text, image, culture and response, Evelyn Arizpe
11. Re-memorying: A new phenomenological methodology in children’s literature studies, Alison Waller
Part II: Contemporary trends in children’s and young adult literature
12. Canons and canonicity, Anja Müller
13. Seriality in children’s literature, Bettina Kümmerling-Meibauer
14. Counterfactual historical fiction for children and young adults, Catherine Butler
15. Pattern, texture and print: New technology, old aesthetic in contemporary picturebook-making, Martin Salisbury
16. Telling stories in different formats: New directions in digital stories for children, Junko Yokota
17. Multimodality and multiliteracies: Production and reception, Margaret Mackey
18. Serendipity, independent publishing and translation flow: Recent translations for children in the UK, Gillian Lathey
19. The picturebook in instructed foreign language learning contexts, Sandie Mourão
Part III: Unmapped territories
20. Next of kin: ‘The child’ and ‘the adult’ in children’s literature theory today and tomorrow, Clémentine Beauvais
21. Critical plant studies and children’s literature, Lydia Kokkola
22. Health, sickness and literature for children, Jean Webb
23. Evolutionary criticism and children’s literature, Maria Nikolajeva
24. The genetic study of children’s literature, Vanessa Joosen
25. Distant reading and thin description, Eugene Giddens
26. Hogwarts versus Svalbard: Cultures, literacies and game adaptations of children’s literature, Andrew Burn
27. Hybrid novels for children and young adults, Eve Tandoi, 28. Cyberspace and story: The impact of digital media on printed children’s books, Victoria Flanagan.

About the Author

Clémentine Beauvais is a Lecturer in Education at the University of York. She has worked on politically committed literature for children, on existentialist theorisations of children’s literature, and more recently on the history and cultural sociology of child giftedness. She is the author of The Mighty Child: Time and Power in Children’s Literature (2015).

Maria Nikolajeva is Professor of Education at the University of Cambridge and director of the Cambridge Research and Teaching Centre for Children's Literature. She was the president of the International Research Society for Children's Literature 1993-97 and received the International Grimm Award for lifetime achievement in children's literature research. Her most recent books are Power, Voice and Subjectivity in Literature for Young People (2010) and Reading for Learning: Cognitive Approaches to Children's Literature (2014).


This remarkable work provides not just a carefully composed snapshot of the discipline today, but a compelling vision of its future. Experienced and new voices, established and emerging approaches, topical issues and old debates revisited – and all clearly explained. A gift to scholars.

- Professor Kimberley Reynolds, Newcastle University

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