The Children's Literature Unit (CLU) is a central part of the School. One of the distinctive strengths of this research cluster, unique in the UK, is the wide historical range covered by its researchers. The unit has four core members of staff, and two associate colleagues, and their expertise in children's literature and culture ranges from the Renaissance to the contemporary:
Particular specialisms include writings by, for, and about early modern children; the legacy of Shakespeare in children's literature; the history of the children's book in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries; the history and practice of publishing for children; and modernist children's literature.
Research in this area is supported by exceptional regional resources. These include the archives and collections of Seven Stories: the National Centre for the Children's Book, the national centre for the children's book which is based in the city of Newcastle, as well as the Robinson Library's unique children's literature special collections, including the Butler Collection of pre-modern children's books, the Meade Collection of L.T. Meade's children's titles, some fine collections of chapbooks and popular literature, and the contents of several early modern school libraries. The Robinson Library is also home to the Booktrust Collection, an ever-expanding archive representing children's book publishing in Britain since the late 1970s, from toy and board books to non-fiction, and picture books to young adult novels. Newcastle Literary and Philosophical Society also houses an impressive collection of children's titles, past and present.
Staff in the CLU work closely with Seven Stories: the National Centre for the Children's Book, advising on acquisitions, archival policy and exhibitions. The CLU is is twinned with the Center for Börnelitteratur in Denmark.
Staff working in this area have published many books, including Children's Literature Studies: A Research Handbook which developed out the CLU's MLitt and PhD programmes. CLU staff have received several major grants and awards. AHRC-funded collaborative studentship schemes have been established with Seven Stories: the National Centre for the Children's Book (three PhD studentships) and with the National Maritime Museum (two PhD studentships).The AHRC has also provided grants for a student-led research training project entitled 'Key Debates in Children's Literature Studies' and a number of research fellowships. Professor Kim Reynolds' major new research project, 'Modernism, the Left, and progressive writing for children, 1900-1945', is funded by a grant from the Leverhulme Trust, which also supports the Approaching War: Childhood, Culture and the First World War project, led by Dr Stacy Gillis in collaboration with colleagues in Australia, Canada and the US.
At postgraduate level, modules on children's literature are currently available in the School's taught MA in English Literature 1500-1900. The School of English also offers an MLitt in English Literature specialising in Children's Literature, a masters-level qualification gained through a combination of taught modules and independent research. A personal curriculum is designed by students and their supervisors to suit their own individual needs.
Our current doctoral students work on many different aspects of children's literature within an excellent research environment. Staff and students studying children’s literature meet weekly for work-in-progress sessions. The School hosts a regular series of seminars on aspects of children’s literature, and other training events are arranged throughout the year, often in collaboration with Seven Stories, the National Centre for the Children's Book.