Childness or child-less: signs taken for wonders

Rudd, David ORCID: 0000-0002-2602-3732 (2019) Childness or child-less: signs taken for wonders. Children's Literature in Education, 50 (1). pp. 8-22. ISSN ISSN 0045-6713

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It is argued that there are several problems with Peter Hollindale’s concept, “childness.” First, it is suggested that the term not only has too much semantic latitude, but that its definitional attributes are themselves incompatible, pulling in different directions: from the pragmatic and empirical to the more figurative and aspirational. Linked with this point is a second one: that despite Hollindale’s avowed claim that his term is ‘extremely flexible, and … historically, socially and culturally determined’ (pp. 76-7), it ultimately defers to a biological essentialism. Thirdly, and as a result of this, the term fails adequately to address many key issues in children’s literature criticism, despite Hollindale’s otherwise exemplary and perceptive readings of texts. Finally, it is suggested that the key issue, of how childhood is seen to be constructed, confers on the child an unwarranted voluntarism that neglects questions of power (i.e. of socialisation and colonisation) probed by others, resulting in a rather Romantic conceptualisation of the child – and, indeed, of “childness.”

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of an article published in Children's Literature in Education. The final authenticated version is available online at:
Uncontrolled Keywords: Childness, Constructivism, Childhood, Romantic Essentialism
Divisions: Bolton School of the Arts > English and Creative Writing
Depositing User: Tracey Gill
Date Deposited: 13 Feb 2019 16:08
Last Modified: 05 Feb 2020 03:30
Identification Number: 10.1007/s10583-018-9371-9

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