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Gender, childhood and children’s literature: the CIRCL approach

Lesnik-Oberstein, K. ORCID: (2023) Gender, childhood and children’s literature: the CIRCL approach. In: Zhu, Z. and Xu, D. (eds.) New International Perspectives: A Collection of Lectures on Children's Literature. Tomorrow Publishing House, Jinan, China. (In Press)

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This paper explores the unique approach to childhood, gender and children’s literature of the research and teaching of the ‘Graduate Centre for International Research in Childhood: Literature, Culture, Media (CIRCL)’. CIRCL follows in its work the arguments of UK critical theorist Jacqueline Rose in her seminal 1984 book The case of Peter Pan or the impossibility of children’s fiction. Rose’s work has been widely and routinely referenced in Children’s Literature studies particularly, but CIRCL interprets her arguments as having quite different implications than those usually assumed. Rose is generally attributed with having pointed out that ‘childhood’ is not one, homogenous category, but that childhood is divided by gender, race, and ethnic, political and religious (and so on) identities. But for CIRCL this is only a first step in Rose’s arguments and certainly one not unique to her work anyway: the perception of various cultural and historical childhoods is widely held. Instead, my paper explores how Rose’s arguments are centrally about how ‘childhood’ itself cannot be maintained in the face of division, a division, moreover, which operates inevitably at every level, and which derives from Rose’s interpretation of psychoanalysis as formulated by Sigmund Freud, which Rose derives in turn from her readings of the interpretations of Freud by French analyst Jacques Lacan and French critical theorist Jacques Derrida. Finally, my paper argues how Rose’s position is about any ‘identity’, including gender, and that this allies her work closely to that of the famous gender theorist Judith Butler, whose arguments are often (mis) understood in the same ways as those of Rose.

Item Type:Book or Report Section
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Literature and Languages > Graduate Centre for International Research in Childhood (CIRCL)
ID Code:73266
Uncontrolled Keywords:childhood, gender, children’s literature, theory, psychoanalysis
Publisher:Tomorrow Publishing House

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