Module Catalogue 2016/17

SEL3338 : Home, heritage, history: 20th century children’s literature

  • Offered for Year: 2016/17
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Lucy Pearson
  • Owning School: English Lit, Language & Linguistics
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
Pre Requisites
Code Title
SEL1003Introduction to Literary Studies 1
SEL1004Introduction to Literary Studies II
Pre Requisite Comment


Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



The twentieth century has been characterised as the ‘century of the child’. In postwar Britain, children’s literature became an important venue for revaluating ideas of nationhood, reconstructing Britain’s past and constructing the future. This module will consider the development of twentieth century children’s literature and the ways in which it has engaged with ideas of home, heritage and history. It aims to place children’s literature in its social and historical contexts, giving students an understanding of how it has contributed to British culture and identity. It will introduce students to the distinctive critical and theoretical debates that are particular to the field, and to the use of archives and special collections in children’s literature scholarship.

The module will offer an introduction to 20th century British children’s literature, with a focus on texts which engage with the themes of home, heritage and history. Students will have the opportunity to read a range of texts published for young readers, including illustrated books and books for young adult readers, and will consider how these books construct both the child and the nation. They will also have the opportunity to work with archives and special collections, notably those held by Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children’s Books, and will consider the intersection between the archive, the child, and the telling of history.

Outline Of Syllabus

Lectures and seminars will focus on specific aspects of Briths children’s literature in the twentieth century, including prize culture, historical fiction, family stories, war narratives, and regional fiction. Workshops will focus on skills and methodologies, including the use of archives and special collections. The syllabus will vary from year to year to reflect opportunities to work with local archives and special collections. Indicative authors include Arthur Ransome, Elinor Lyon, Mary Norton, Philippa Pearce, Alan Garner, and David Almond.

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

Students will develop knowledge and understanding of the following:
- the historical and social contexts of children’s literature in the 20th century
- a wide range of books for children, in a variety of genres and addressing different age groups
- critical debates concerning the social roles and aesthetic forms of children’s literature
- approaches and methodologies for the critical analysis of children’s literature
- the role of archives and special collections in children's literature scholarship
- the role of children’s literature in shaping nationhood and British culture

Intended Skill Outcomes

The module will develop skills in:
- reading and analyzing a range of texts and documents
- using secondary material critically
- accessing and using archives and special collections
- giving informal oral presentations
- producing appropriate kinds of academic writing
- working with a group of colleagues on a common task
- participating in debate and discussion
- working under time pressure

Graduate Skills Framework

Graduate Skills Framework Applicable: Yes
  • Cognitive/Intellectual Skills
    • Critical Thinking : Assessed
    • Active Learning : Present
    • Literacy : Assessed
  • Self Management
    • Planning and Organisation
      • Goal Setting And Action Planning : Present
      • Decision Making : Present
    • Personal Enterprise
      • Initiative : Present
      • Problem Solving : Present
  • Interaction
    • Communication
      • Oral : Present
    • Team Working
      • Collaboration : Present

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion130:0030:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture111:0011:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading180:0080:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching102:0020:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops23:006:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork13:003:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyStudent-led group activity181:0018:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study132:0032:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Methods are varied as is appropriate to the breadth and diversity of the module's content and intended learning outcomes. The lectures offer students wide-ranging overviews of the historical development of children's literature, its relation to British culture and identity, and critical strategies and methodologies appropriate to its study. One important strand of the module is the opportunity to gain experience of literary research in archives and special collections: the workshops will offer students he opportunity to gain practical skills related to this area, while the field trip to Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children's Books will introduce students to key local resources for the study of children's literature. Building on this foundation, the two-hour seminars are designed to enable active learning and include short lectures focused on particular writers, plenary discussions, student presentations, and group work. In addition to the two study visits, students will be able to access a rich programme of events, including literary speakers and visits to local performances of children's film and theatre.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M25Skills based essay (1500 words)
Essay1A65Take home exam (2500 words)
Practical/lab report1M10Class participation activities
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The short essay will allow students to exercise subject-specific skills taught on the module by offering the opportunity to use archives and special collections for literary research. The time-limited essay (also known as a take-home examination) will enable students to examine in a highly focused way, and with reference to a selection of writers, the issues and questions explored by the module. It will enable them to develop skills in researching a field, planning and organising work, and working under time pressure. A formative assessment (practice exam) mid-module will allow them the chance to practice these skills.

Students will also be encouraged to take responsibility for their own and their peers' learning, and to develop practical approaches to material, via an in-class student-led exercise.

The chosen forms of assessment correspond to the Department's commitment to providing an appropriate range of methods of assessment across all modules

Alternative Assessment for Study Abroad Semester 1 only: Study Abroad students in semester 1 are able to submit their portfolio electronically or in hard copy by registered mail.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Note: The Module Catalogue now reflects module information relating to academic year 16/17. Please contact your School Office if you require module information for a previous academic year.

Disclaimer: The University will use all reasonable endeavours to deliver modules in accordance with the descriptions set out in this catalogue. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, however, the University reserves the right to introduce changes to the information given including the addition, withdrawal or restructuring of modules if it considers such action to be necessary.