Topics covered in the 2021 summer school

Each session will involve a recorded talk or presentation, which you will have access to from the start of the week, allowing you to move through the material at your own pace. You will also be provided with key extracts from texts and a resource list, so you can delve as deeply as you wish into each topic.

Each session will be accompanied by a discussion forum – where you can share your ideas and views with other summer school participants and teaching staff.

There will also be a number of optional live virtual seminars with teaching staff. A schedule for these live sessions can be found here.

Short abstracts for each of the sessions will be added below soon.


Oscar Wilde’s Fairy Tales

Dr Jarlath Killeen


The Wizard of Oz

Dr Dara Downey


‘The Wonders of Common Things’: Stories told by Objects in Children’s Literature

Dr Jane Carroll

The nineteenth century saw an exponential increase in children’s it-narratives, stories told from the point of view of an inanimate object. Though these children’s it-narratives have some of the hallmarks of their 18th century predecessors, I argue that they constitute a distinct sub-genre, one that is deeply concerned with science as well as morality. These strange, witty stories centre on familiar household objects and show that even the most mundane items have complicated histories. It-narratives allow the child reader to become an informed and enlightened consumer, one who understands where and how the things in their possession are made.

In this session, we will meet a chatty pin, a snobbish piece of coal, a vain teacup and many other strange characters. We will examine the ways the it-narrative juxtaposes the worldly and long-lasting object, with the naïve and young child reader. This session offers an overview of this common – though undervalued – genre and uses extracts from three nineteenth-century it-narratives ALOE’s The Story of a Needle (1870) E.M. Stirling’s The story of a pin; or, The changes and chances of an eventful life (1872) and Annie Carey’s The Wonders of Common Things (1880) as the basis for our seminar discussion.


Ælfric’s Colloquy on the Occupations

Dr Alice Jorgensen


William Blake and Romantic Childhoods

Dr Clare Clarke


Running Amok: The Domestic Adventures of Children at Home

Dr Becky Long

The global pandemic has kept most of humanity indoors for over a year. What have we done in our domestic spaces? How have we lived? How have we entertained ourselves? How have children coped with sudden limitations imposed on their freedom? Or have they learned to create their own freedom? Houses figure largely in all fiction but particularly in fiction written for children. The house as home is one theme but the house as space, both domestic and interior is also a compelling lens to examine the representation of childhood in children’s books. How have the children of canonical children’s books coped with being cooped up indoors?

In this session, we will consider the adventures of children who find themselves limited or confined to domestic spaces. In Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden (1911), Mary Lennox arrives in a new country, recently orphaned and finds herself initially confined to a sprawling country house. In C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950), the Pevensie children are evacuated into the Professor’s country house from a war-ravaged London. In Lucy M. Boston’s Children of the Green Knowe (1954), Tolly is visiting Green Knowe, a house where he encounters the spirits of his ancestors. Ultimately, this session is concerned with the freedom some children in literature experience as they explore large domestic indoor spaces; spaces in which to grow, to use their imaginations: to create stories and narratives which chronicle not only their exploration of the houses but also their own childhoods. The house is the place within which literary children come of age; the childhood space is slowly transformed even as the children explore these houses and move deeper and further into the narratives of their own lives.



Menstruation and the Pubescent Body in Children’s Literature

Dr Jade Dillon