Children's Fiction (Creative)
Run by School of Languages, Literatures, Linguistics and Media
20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits
Organiser: Miss Fiona Cameron
Overall aims and purpose
One in three books sold is a work of Children's literature. So what of its histories, its theories, its transition, and fragmentations into the most popular genre of all time? This module engages with a variety of classic, popular and current children's literature from a range of perspectives, exploring how they represent childhood as formative whilst considering the ways in which children read and receive literature from infancy. Thus this module aims to take stock of both what has traditionally been considered 'children's literature' and of texts tailored (through excerpting, adaptation and cultural adaptation) to suit a young audience. Students are encouraged to examine texts in relation to cultural contexts and social change and the changing politics of childhood as an identity category. There will be opportunities to explore the polysemic ways text and illustration interact; the relationship between the uncanny and the creation of 'other worlds'; the critical space that exists between writing for and about children; the role of the child narrator as the primary storyteller: and the major themes children's literature represents, from domesticity and family life, to innocence and 'knowing', to threat, violence and unknown worlds. Combining theory with creative practice, students will also be encouraged to submit their own works of children's literature, coming to understand the relationship between reader and text.
This module proposes to bring students closer to the debates surrounding, on the one hand, childhood as a category, and the historical context in which 'Children's Fiction' has emerged from and developed, and, on the other, the practice of writing Children's Literature. Thus we include analyses of a range of perspectives and representations of childhood and how they have altered over time, reflecting cultural contexts, societal categories, gender differences. From the point of view of the creative writer, this exploration will be particularly mindful of children's ever-changing reading habits. We will also explore the narrative distinctions between writing for and about children, including, but not limited to, how the novel places children in positions of power and responsibility and what effect this may have on the reader: the primary themes and subjects that continue to contextualise children's literature. We will examine the importance of identity (also a child's understanding of their own identity) and how this is formed and shaped through experience: the exploration of fantasy worlds and imagination and the ways in which they can be representative of larger, allegorical themes. For the creative writing students there will be written practice sessions, designed to enable them to apply the literary devices and narrative techniques used, including exploring the experience of childhood, whilst focusing upon language use and its educational properties to enhance learning.
Typically, the work of a first class candidate will show many of the following qualities:
Excellent levels of originality, vision and depth; striking and thorough engagement with ideas.
Excellent understanding and control of form.
Impressive linguistic control and/or innovation.
Sophisticated understanding of the creative process and assured control of decisions made in writing.
Dynamic work approaching publishable standard.
A 3rd class candidate’s work will show many of the following features:
Limited engagement with ideas and understanding of the texts.
Link between themes and form not always clear.
Limited sense of formal conventions. Inconsistent with regard to linguistic technicalities
Limited awareness of redrafting and editing process.
C- to C+
A 2(ii) candidate’s work will show many of the following qualities:
Some attempt at serious exploration of ideas.
Some link between themes and form. Good attempt to engage with form, but this may not be entirely sustained.
Use of language technically proficient, but not always focused.
Some awareness of the creative process and of decisions made in writing.
Good work, but its strengths need to be more fully sustained to reach publishable standard.
A 2(i) candidate’s work will show many of the following qualities:
Demonstration of a degree of vitality and originality.
Very good understanding of generic conventions; sound use of structures and forms.
Resourceful use of language
Sound understanding of the creative process and thoughtful control of decisions made in writing.
Very good work, which at times comes close to publishable standard
Demonstrate high level of understanding of the range of children's literature and the readers it is written for.
Demonstrate an awareness of research and writing techniques employed by writers to reach the younger audience
Show critical understanding of the representation of childhood through children's literature: its landscapes, contexts and historical development.
|Creative Writing Portfolio||20|
|Critical Commentary on Creative submission||10|
|Critical Review of a set text and how it continues to influence contemporary children's fictions||20|
|Creative Writing Portoflio||30|
|Critical Commentary on Creative Practice||10|
|Group presentation of end of term project||10|
Teaching and Learning Strategy
2 x 1 hour weekly lectures
1 x 1 hour weekly seminar on writing for children
Students will be expected to engage in wider reading to support their creative practice from both a creative and critical perspective, including research, illustrative work, and producing work for regular workshop.
Towards the end of term, there will be an expectation of a group study/practice for a group presentation as part of final assessment.
- Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
- Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
- Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
- Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
- Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
- Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
- Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
- Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team
- Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
- Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others
Subject specific skills
- Awareness of how different social and cultural contexts affect the nature of language and meaning (English Benchmark Statement 2.1; 2.2; 3.1.3; 3.1.7; 3.1.11; 3.2.8).
- Command of a broad range of vocabulary and an appropriate critical terminology (English Benchmark Statement 3.1.9; 3.2.6).
- Broad knowledge of literature and the distinctive characters of texts written in the principal literary genres of fiction, poetry and drama, and of other kinds of writing and communication (English Benchmark Statement 1.3.1; 3.1.1; 3.1.2).
- Critical Skills in the close reading, description, reasoning and analysis and the ability to acquire substantial quantities of complex information of diverse kinds in a structured and systematic way involving the use of the distinctive interpretative skills of the subject (English Benchmark Statement 1.3.2; 1.3.6; 1.3.9; 2.1; 2.3; 3.2.1; 3.3.1; 3.3.3; 3.3.5; 3.3.8; 3.3.12; 3.3.13).
- Information technology and time management and organization skills, as shown by the ability to plan and present conclusions effectively (English Benchmark Statement 1.3.9; 3.3.14; 3.3.15).
- Rhetorical skills of effective communication and argument, both oral and written (English Benchmark Statement 2.3; 3.1.10; 3.2.5; 3.3.1; 3.3.6).
- The ability to work with and in relationship to others through the presentation of ideas and information and the collective negotiation of solutions (English Benchmark Statement 1.3.9; 3.3.10).
- Sensitivity to generic conventions and to the shaping effects upon communication of circumstances, authorship, textual production and intended audience (English Benchmark Statement 1.3.8; 2.3.; 3.1.2; 3.2.3).
- The capacity for independent thought and judgement; the ability to articulate knowledge and understanding of texts, concepts and theories and to interrogate and apply a variety of theoretical positions and weigh the importance of alternative perspectives (English Benchmark Statement 1.3.9; 2.1; 2.3; 3.1.10; 3.2.2; 3.3.1; 3.3.7; 3.3.11).
- Responsiveness to the central role of language in the creation of meaning and a sensitivity to the affective power of language (English Benchmark Statement 1.3.5; 1.3.8; 3.1.5; 3.1.11; 3.2.4).
- The ability to comprehend and develop intricate concepts in an open-ended way which involves an understanding of purpose and consequences (English Benchmark Statement 1.3.6; 3.3.9).
- Understanding of how cultural norms and assumptions influence questions of judgement (English Benchmark Statement 2.1; 2.2; 3.1.6; 3.1.7; 3.2.9).
- Comprehension of the complex nature of languages, and an awareness of the relevant research by which they may be better understood (English Benchmark Statement 3.2.10).
- Recognition of the multi-faceted nature of literature, and of its complex relationship to other media or disciplines and forms of knowledge (English Benchmark Statement 1.3.7; 2.1; 2.2; 2.4; 2.5; 3.1.8; 3.1.12).
- Critical Skills in the close reading, description, reasoning and analysis of texts (English Benchmark Statement 1.3.6; 1.3.9; 2.1; 2.3; 3.2.1; 3.3.1; 3.2.1; 3.3.8; 3.3.12).
- Competence in the planning and execution of essays, presentations and other writing and project work (English Benchmark Statement 3.3.6).
- Conceptual skills developed by demonstration and discussion. (English Benchmark Statement 3.2.2; 3.3.14; 3.3.17; 3.3.18; 3.3.19).
- Study skills in researching concepts and contexts by directed reading. (English Benchmark Statement 3.3.22; 3.3.23).
- The ability to express ideas clearly in discussion and in organised written form. (English Benchmark Statement 3.2.5; 3.2.7; 3.3.11; 3.3.15; 3.3.16; 3.3.21; 3.3.24).
- The ability to analyse texts, using appropriate critical terminology. ( English Benchmark Statement 3.1.8; 3.2.1; 3.2.6; 3.3.12).
- The ability to situate texts in intertextual debate and as responses to and interventions in contemporary culture. (English Benchmark Statement 3.1.7; 3.1.10; 3.1.11; 3.2.3; 3.2.8).
- Translation skills (Middle English).
- Communicate effectively in interpersonal settings, in writing and in a variety of media; engagement with forms of critical analysis, argument and debate, expressed through an appropriate command of oral, written and other forms of communication (Communication, Media, Film and Cultural Studies benchmark 6.1.5; 8.2.6).
- Competence in the planning and execution of essays, presentations and other writing and project work; bibliographic skills, including accurate citation of sources and consistent use of conventions in the presentation of scholarly work and the ability to engage in processes of drafting and redrafting texts to achieve clarity of expression and an appropriate style; making use, as appropriate, of a problem-solving approach (English Benchmark Statement 3.2.7; 3.3.4; 3.3.6; Communication, Media, Film and Cultural Studies benchmark 6.1.7).
- Broad knowledge of a range of texts, genres, aesthetic forms and cultural practices, and the ability to produce close analysis of these and of the uses and implications of these approaches; an understanding of particular media forms and genres, and the way in which they organize understandings, meanings and affects (English Benchmark Statement 1.3.1; 3.1.1; 3.1.2; Communication, Media, Film and Cultural Studies benchmarks 4.1.5; 8.2.5).
- Ability to articulate knowledge and understanding of texts, concepts and theories relating to English studies.
- Bibliographic skills appropriate to the discipline, including accurate citation of sources and consistent use of conventions in the presentation of scholarly work.
- Ability to articulate knowledge and understanding of texts through advanced knowledge of the Latin language.
- Awareness of how different social and cultural contexts affect the nature of language and meaning (English Benchmark Statement 3.2).
- An understanding of creative and critical processes, and of the wide range of skills inherent in creative writing. (NAWE Creative Writing Benchmark Statement 3.1).
- Knowledge of a wide range of canonical English texts, providing a confident understanding of literary traditions as well as the confidence to experiment and challenge conventions when writing creatively. (English Benchmark Statement 3.1).
- An awareness of writing and publishing contexts, opportunities and audiences in the wider world (NAWE Creative Writing Benchmark Statement 3.1).
- Artistic engagement and ability to articulate complex ideas in oral and written forms. (NAWE Creative Writing Benchmark Statement 3.2).
- Ability to connect creative and critical ideas between and among forms, techniques and types of creative and critical praxis. (NAWE Creative Writing Benchmark Statement 3.2; English Benchmark Statement 3.2).
- Reflective practitioner skills, including awareness of the practice of others in collaborative learning (NAWE Creative Writing Benchmark Statement 3.2; English Benchmark Statement 3.2).
- The ability to synthesize information from various sources, choosing and applying appropriate concepts and methods (English Benchmark Statement 3.3).
- Ability to formulate and solve problems, anticipate and accommodate change, and work within contexts of ambiguity, uncertainty and unfamiliarity (NAWE Creative Writing Benchmark Statement 3.2; English Benchmark Statement 3.3).
- Ability to engage in processes of drafting and redrafting texts to achieve clarity of expression and an appropriate style. (English Benchmark Statement 3.3; NAWE Creative Writing Benchmark Statement 3.2).
- Ability to gather information, analyse, interpret and discuss different viewpoints (NAWE Creative Writing Benchmark Statement 3.2; English Benchmark Statement 3.3).
- Information technology (IT) skills broadly understood and the ability to access, work with and evaluate electronic resources (NAWE Creative Writing Benchmark Statement 3.2; English Benchmark Statement 3.3).
Resource implications for students
see above - purchase of some inexpensive primary texts will be necessary, though they exist in free kindle editions as well in most cases e.g. will students have to pay anything?
The Cambridge Companion to Children's Literature, ed. by Immel and Grenby (2009) - free e-book through BU Library
The Oxford Companion to Children's Literature, ed. by Carpenter and Prichard (1984), multiple copies in BUL
International companion encyclopaedia of children's literature, ed. by Hunt and Bannister-Ray (Routledge, 1996)
Courses including this module
Compulsory in courses:
- 2P17: BA English Literature and Creative Writing year 1 (BA/ENCW)
Optional in courses:
- W890: BA Creative&Professional Writing year 1 (BA/CPW)
- 2P78: BA English Lit with Creative Writing with International Exp year 1 (BA/ECI)
- 2D13: BA English Literature with Creative Writing year 1 (BA/ENGLC)
- Q2W9: MArts English Literature with Creative Writing year 1 (MARTS/ELCW)