Module Catalogue 2018/19

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

  • Offered for Year: 2018/19
  • 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
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
- producing material for public audiences
- working with a group of colleagues on a common task
- participating in debate and discussion

Graduate Skills Framework

Graduate Skills Framework Applicable: Yes
  • Cognitive/Intellectual Skills
    • Critical Thinking : Assessed
    • Active Learning : Present
    • Literacy : Assessed
    • Information Literacy
      • Source Materials : Assessed
      • Synthesise And Present Materials : Assessed
      • Use Of Computer Applications : Assessed
  • Self Management
    • Self Awareness And Reflection : Assessed
    • Planning and Organisation
      • Goal Setting And Action Planning : Present
      • Decision Making : Present
    • Personal Enterprise
      • Innovation And Creativity : Assessed
      • Initiative : Present
      • Independence : Present
      • Problem Solving : Present
  • Interaction
    • Communication
      • Oral : Present
      • Interpersonal : Assessed
      • Written Other : Assessed
    • Team Working
      • Collaboration : Present
      • Relationship Building : Present
      • Leadership : Present
      • Negotiation : Present
      • Peer Assessment Review : Present
  • Application
    • Occupational Awareness : Present
    • Social Cultural Global Awareness : Assessed

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 fieldtrip, 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)
Essay1A60Essay (2500 words)
Practical/lab report1A10Class participation activities
Computer assessment1M5Multiple choice quiz on key skills
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Skills-based practical essay
Focuses on the new skills and concepts explored in the first part of the module. This assessment will let students put their new skills into practice, and help them develop skills for employability by applying their expertise as scholars of English Literature to new settings.

In-class study group activity
Students will 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. This assessment will enable students to develop their expertise as independent researchers by asking them to choose and develop a focus which reflects their interests. They will develop their skills in group work and oral communication, which are particularly relevant to possible future careers.

Computer assessment - multiple choice skills quiz
Students will be encourage to practice practical skills in relation to using and understanding archive catalogues through a short Blackboard quiz.

Summative essay
This assessment will evaluate students' understanding of the key themes and concepts which underpin the module, and will offer them the opportunity to deploy their new skills in archive-based research in a literary critical context.

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


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2018/19 academic year. In accordance with University Terms and Conditions, the University makes all reasonable efforts to deliver the modules as described. Modules may be amended on an annual basis to take account of changing staff expertise, developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback. Module information for the 2018/19 entry will be published here in early-April 2018. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.