Reflections of Change: Children's Literature since 1945

Reflections of Change: Children's Literature since 1945

Reflections of Change: Children's Literature since 1945

Reflections of Change: Children's Literature since 1945

Synopsis

Over the past fifty years, children's literature has freed itself of many traditional restrictions and has become a field of exciting innovations in both form and content. The new status of children's literature has been accompanied by an unprecedented growth in research on children's literature internationally. This volume explores the many changes that have taken place in the past half-century in children's literature, showing how those changes reflect our rapidly-changing world and attempt to prepare children for the new millennium. Among the issues discussed are the shifting boundaries between children's literature and adult literature, postmodern trends, paradigm shifts, national literatures, and the reconceptualization of the past.

Excerpt

The Twelfth Biennial Congress of the International Research Society for Children's Literature (IRSCL), held in Stockholm in 1995, brought together children's literature scholars from some twenty-five countries to reflect on the changes that have taken place in children's literature and children's literature theory and criticism since 1945, a period that has seen rapidly accelerating innovation in so many fields. This volume, a selection of the papers given at the Congress, is representative of the variety of ways in which children's literature around the world has been evolving over the last half-century. In many countries, particularly those of the West, the process of change has been steadily ongoing since the end of the Second World War. In others, however, for social, political, or economic reasons, periods of growth have been followed by periods of stagnation. And when countries have existed in isolation from the international community, it is often only in very recent years that any significant innovation in children's literature and its criticism has been possible. The keynote address given at the Congress by Vincas Aurylaof Lithuania shows very clearly how differently children's literature Eastern Europe evolved over this period.

Clearly, one of the most dramatic changes has been the new, privileged status that children's literature has begun to enjoy in recent decades. In the early part of the twentieth century, children's literature was undervalued, marginalized, excluded from mainstream literature. Children's literature, like texts by women and other minority groups, owes a great debt to postmodernism and its tendency to eliminate barriers, level hierarchies, and give equal voice to all. There is no doubt, as Eva-Maria Metcalf points out in her essay, that postmodernism has had a significant liberating and empowering effect on children's literature. In the 1990s, children's book publishing is booming in most Western countries, and many publishing houses attribute their survival in a slumping economy to their children's departments.

The changing status of children's literature has been accompanied by an unprecedented growth in children's literature research internationally. Since 1970, children's literature, as a significant field of scholarship, has been growing steadily . . .

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