Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton

ENGL2027 Children's Literature

Module Overview

Children's literature is a rather slippery term encompassing a variety of genres, child/adult concerns, engagement with historical/contextual issues on, for example, gender; class; nonsense; the nature of time; slavery. Other issues addressed are subjectivity, agency, the role of parental figures in the development of the child.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

• familiarise you with some of the themes and ideas explored in a selection of literature for children from the nineteenth-century to present day, including works of some major writers in the field; • to enhance employability-related qualities and aptitudes – in particular reflexivity, a reasoned sense of self-worth and social vision; • extend your understanding of the development of a literature for children by providing a cultural-historic background; • consider the texts in the light of some literary theories; • progress further your understanding of debates about genre.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • what characterises a literary work written for children;
  • key theories relevant to the genre;
  • forms and writing techniques demonstrated in the work selected;
  • the issues relating to children’s literature, such as representations of childhood, gender identity and theories of reading.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • discuss, orally and in writing, issues relating to the form and content of the writing you have studied;
  • contextualise the selected work and consider critical responses to it;
  • relate the work on this module regarding identity and representations of childhood, for example, to themes addressed in the core at levels 1 and 2;
  • draw upon secondary sources to inform you argument.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • write critically, reflectively and accurately about a specific area of study;
  • participate, responsively and constructively, in small and large group discussions with your peers on specific topics;
  • use appropriately a range of secondary material.


In this module you will consider significant issues, such as representations of child - and adulthood, gender and subjectivity, the role of realism and fantasy, from the First Golden Age of Children's Literature (1860-1914), including works by Lewis Carroll, Kenneth Grahame and F. Hodgson Burnett. Thereafter we will focus on the Second Golden Age (1945 - 1960) by analysing how, for example, Tom's Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce both draws on and develops themes from the First Golden Age before considering more contemporary authors, e.g. Philip Pullman. You will also have the opportunity to compare the themes raised in British texts to three American novels - Uncle Tom's Cabin, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry - to gain an overview of the range and complexities of the genre. You will be encouraged to use your knowledge gained from the core strands to support and develop your analysis of literary/ theoretical issues and your historical/ contextual research.

Special Features

• Background lectures are the means by which you are introduced to the work of selected writers, the political and theoretical contexts, and the key themes. • The seminars will be strongly student-centered, giving you the opportunity to pursue key themes raised in lectures in depth through preparation of specific issues and informed discussion with your peers. • The group will be given clear guidance and advice prior to beginning your assessed work in seminars, and there will be opportunities for you to make an individual appointment with the tutor to discuss the planning of your coursework. • The teaching, learning and assessment methods and the planned learning outcomes are closely integrated to support each other, and enable you to find a clear relationship between them and throughout the module.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include • mini-lectures to introduce selected writers and key themes; • seminars to enable you to examine specific texts and topics in discussion with your peers; • individual meetings with the tutor to discuss assessment planning and essay feedback. Learning activities include • close reading and careful analysis of selected texts and themes; • engagement in seminar discussions as participator and listener; • preparation for and completion of two coursework essays. This module includes a Learning Support Hour. This is a flexible weekly contact hour, designed to support and respond to the particular cohort taking the module from year to year. This hour will include (but not be limited to) activities such as language, theory and research skills classes; group work supervisions; assignment preparation and essay writing guidance; assignment consultations; feedback and feed-forward sessions.

Independent Study114
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Foster, S., and Simons, J. (1995). What Katy Read: Feminist Re-Readings of ‘Classic’ Stories for Girls. 

Stephens, J (1992). Language and Ideology in Children’s Literature. 

Hunt, P., (ed.) (1990). Children’s Literature: The Development of Criticism. 

Hunt, P (1999). An Introduction to Children’s Literature. 

Butt, D., (ed.) (1992). Stories and Society: Children’s Literature in its Context. 


Assessment Strategy

Assessments designed to provide informal, on-module feedback • group guidance on the two coursework assignments; • opportunities for individual consultation by appointment with the tutor to discuss preparation for assessment and to review essay feedback.


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (2000 words) 50%
Essay  (2000 words) 50%


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay 50%
Essay 50%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Share this module Share this on Facebook Share this on Twitter Share this on Weibo

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.