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Children's Literature

The Children's Literature Unit provides a focus for research and teaching in the areas of children’s literature, performance and childhood. We offer a range of dedicated courses and modules at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. These areas are also embedded in the work of the School as a whole, from historical and literary analysis of writing for and about children through the study of children’s language acquisition, investigation of performances for and of childhood, and the creative practice of writing for children. The range and breadth of interest in childhood and texts across the School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics is, we believe, unique. It makes for a tremendously exciting and rewarding environment for those drawn to studying these materials, many of which are located in our special collections, including those of our partner, Seven Stories, the National Centre for the Children’s Book. The interests of permanent members of staff are complemented by those of our Visiting Professor in Children’s Literature, Peter Hunt, and our Visiting Fellow in Children’s Literature, Dr. Brian Alderson.


Our research has resulted in both award-winning monographs and major funding for research projects, many of which create opportunities for students at all levels. AHRC funding for Collaborative Doctoral Award students, three based at Seven Stories, the National Centre for the Children's Book and two at the National Maritime Museum, has been followed by funding for Approaching War, a Leverhulme Network project that provides generous support for postgraduate and early career researchers in the UK, Australia and Canada. Helen Freshwater holds a prestigious Philip Leverhulme Prize to advance her research into childhood and performance; Kimberley Reynolds has a Major Leverhulme Fellowship to conduct research into the way modernism, the Left and progressive politics impacted on children’s literature in the early twentieth century, while Matthew Grenby has had multiple fellowships and awards including AHRC funding enabling him to complete his acclaimed study of the child reader and of volume three of the letters of children's writer and publisher William Godwin.

Teaching and research in children's literature are supported by our excellent specialist collections and archives.