1st Edition

Child Autonomy and Child Governance in Children's Literature Where Children Rule

Edited By Kit Kelen, Bjorn Sundmark Copyright 2017
    250 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    250 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book explores representations of child autonomy and self-governance in children’s literature.The idea of child rule and child realms is central to children’s literature, and childhood is frequently represented as a state of being, with children seen as aliens in need of passports to Adultland (and vice versa). In a sense all children’s literature depends on the idea that children are different, separate, and in command of their own imaginative spaces and places. Although the idea of child rule is a persistent theme in discussions of children’s literature (or about children and childhood) the metaphor itself has never been properly unpacked with critical reference to examples from those many texts that are contingent on the authority and/or power of children. Child governance and autonomy can be seen as natural or perverse; it can be displayed as a threat or as a promise. Accordingly, the "child rule"-motif can be seen in Robinsonades and horror films, in philosophical treatises and in series fiction. The representations of self-ruling children are manifold and ambivalent, and range from the idyllic to the nightmarish. Contributors to this volume visit a range of texts in which children are, in various ways, empowered, discussing whether childhood itself may be thought of as a nationality, and what that may imply. This collection shows how representations of child governance have been used for different ideological, aesthetic, and pedagogical reasons, and will appeal to scholars of children’s literature, childhood studies, and cultural studies.

    Table of contents


    1. Where Children Rule: An Introduction - Kit Kelen and Björn Sundmark
    2. Can Children Rule? An Enquiry into Locke’s Ideas of Children and Government - Mavis Reimer and Charlie Peters
    3. Discourses of Internationalism in Children’s Literature - Emer O’Sullivan
    4. Mysteries and Histories: Children and the Paradox of Religious Empowerment – Robert A. Davis
    5. Where the Child is father – Republics, Expulsions and the Rule(s) of Poetry: Exploring Lewis Carroll’s "Jabberwocky" - Kit Kelen
    6. The Child Robinsonade - Björn Sundmark
    7. (Child)Reign of Terror: Dangerous Child Régimes - Björn Sundmark
    8. Where Girls Rule by Magic: Metaphors of Agency - Clare Bradford
    9. In the Kingdom of Cancer: Dying Children Living Their Own Lives in Contemporary YA Novel - Karin Nykvist
    10. The King of Misrule - Anna Maria Czernow
    11. "I’ve a crown on my head!": The Ruling Animal in Children’s Fiction - Zoe Jaques
    12. Woods Where Things Have No Names: An Investigation of "The Teddy Bears’ Picnic" - Kit Kelen
    13. Children’s Rule in Comic Strips and Television Series - Åse Marie Ommundsen
    14. Finding the Spaces Within: Picture Books in Which Children (Can) Enter and Have Agency -Junko Yokota
    15. Playtime in Playworld – How Children Learn to Rule – You Chengcheng & Chrysogonus Siddha Malilang


    Christopher (Kit) Kelen is a well known Australian poet and Professor of English at the University of Macau. His monograph Anthem Quality - National Songs, A Theoretical Survey was published by Intellect/University of Chicago Press in 2014.

    Björn Sundmark is Professor of English Literature at Malmö University, Sweden, and the editor of Bookbird – Journal of International Children’s Literature.