Artful Dodgers: Reconceiving the Golden Age of Children's Literature

Artful Dodgers: Reconceiving the Golden Age of Children's Literature

by Marah Gubar
     
 

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In this groundbreaking contribution to Victorian and children's literature studies, Marah Gubar proposes a fundamental reconception of the nineteenth-century attitude toward childhood. The ideology of innocence was much slower to spread than we think, she contends, and the people whom we assume were most committed to it—children's authors and members of the

Overview

In this groundbreaking contribution to Victorian and children's literature studies, Marah Gubar proposes a fundamental reconception of the nineteenth-century attitude toward childhood. The ideology of innocence was much slower to spread than we think, she contends, and the people whom we assume were most committed to it—children's authors and members of the infamous "cult of the child"—were actually deeply ambivalent about this Romantic notion. Rather than wholeheartedly promoting a static ideal of childhood purity, Golden Age children's authors often characterize young people as collaborators who are caught up in the constraints of the culture they inhabit, and yet not inevitably victimized as a result of this contact with adults and their world. Such nuanced meditations on the vexed issue of the child's agency, Gubar suggests, can help contemporary scholars to generate more flexible critical approaches to the study of childhood and children's literature.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"One of the finest things about this remarkable book is that it does what so much scholarship strives for and so seldom does: it advances the entire field, and by a huge margin."—James R. Kincaid, author of Child Loving: The Erotic Child and Victorian Culture

"Challenging received wisdom about Golden Age writing and children's literature more broadly, Gubar resets the critical stage, rereading canonical texts, reintroducing forgotten ones, and offering a fascinating analysis of children's theatre. A major work of scholarship."—Kenneth Kidd, University of Florida

"Artful Dodgers adds to understandings of the period as a whole. It contributes to a range of vital debates regarding literary form, central nineteenth-century writers, including Carroll, Stevenson, and Barrie, and the hierarchies residing in age and gender. Gubar's book is pioneering in demonstrating that Victorian adult writers depicted children much more complexly than modern readers have recognized."—Laurie Langbauer, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

"This book will reframe basic assumptions underlying its field. Refusing to condescend either to children or to the Victorians who wrote about them, Marah Gubar generously evokes the surprising-and unsettling-capacities of children and children's literature."—Andrew H. Miller, Indiana University

"Gubar makes a significant and timely contribution by proposing that the vision of the child as blank slate may be less widespread among Golden Age children's writers than among today's critics. This important and authoritative book requires readers to confront their own prejudices."—Claudia Nelson, Texas A&M University

"Artful Dodgers is a lucid, informative, and stimulating work...It deserves wide attention among scholars of both Victorian and children's literature, not only for the range and acuity of its readings, but also for its reflections on critical method...It is full of incisive close reading, rigorous yet flexible in method, richly and variously contextualized. It is literary study of a high order." -James Eli Adams, New Books Online

"Artful Dodgers is an engaging and provocative analysis of the twentieth-century critical construction of Victorian childhood...Through a combination of close attention to the historical evidence and a steadfast refusal to simplify the data, [Gubar] offers a compelling argument that late-nineteenth-century children's fiction is both more sophisticated and more various than has been widely assumed."-Shelley King, Times Higher Education

"Enormously readable and a pleasure to learn from...Gubar's work in "reconceiving" Victorian and Edwardian children's literature is groundbreaking." —Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies

"Artful Dodgers' reconception of British Golden Age fiction is a signal, deeply original study that epitomizes the kinds of work essential to theorizing and practicing children's literature studies: real archival research." —The Lion and the Unicorn

"Inject[s] a much-needed dose of common sense into ethereal academic discussions and status quo thinking even while enriching rather than diluting the conversation. The arguments put forth in its seven chapters are articulate and well constructed, founded on wide-ranging research, careful thinking, and close reading of the texts rather than on political ideology. Gubar's independent approach to understanding the literature of the nineteenth century is astute and engaging and should be required reading for Victorian scholars of both adult and children's literature." —Children's Literature Association Quarterly

"[A] groundbreaking contribution to Victorian and children's literature studies." —Goodreads

"[A] substantial and wide-ranging study." —Inis Magazine

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199756742
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
10/15/2010
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
280
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.80(d)

Meet the Author

Marah Gubar is Associate Professor of English and Director of the Children's Literature Program at the University of Pittsburgh.

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