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

  • Inactive for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Lucy Pearson
  • Owning School: English Lit, Language & Linguistics
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


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.

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 teaching92:0018:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops23:006:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork14:004:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery20:301:00N/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.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2A70Skills-based essay (3500 words)
Practical/lab report2A20Class participation activities
Computer assessment2M10Multiple choice quiz on key skills
Assessment Rationale And Relationship


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. Students will have the opportunity of producing material geared towards a public audience in addition to a conventional essay.

Reading Lists