From Nursery Rhymes to Nationhood: Children's Literature and the Construction of Canadian Identity, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

From Nursery Rhymes to Nationhood

Children's Literature and the Construction of Canadian Identity, 1st Edition

By Elizabeth Galway


216 pages

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As Canada came to terms with its role as an independent nation following Confederation in 1867, there was a call for a literary voice to express the needs and desires of a new country. Children’s literature was one of the means through which this new voice found expression. Seen as a tool for both entertaining and educating children, this material is often overtly propagandistic and nationalistic, and addresses some of the key political, economic, and social concerns of Canada as it struggled to maintain national unity during this time. From Nursery Rhymes to Nationhood studies a large variety of children’s literature written in English between 1867 and 1911, revealing a distinct interest in questions of national unity and identity among children’s writers of the day and exploring the influence of American and British authors on the shaping of Canadian identity. The visions of Canada expressed in this material are often in competition with one another, but together they illuminate the country’s attempts to define itself and its relation to the world outside its borders.


"…many analyses of literature (of any country) neglect texts written for children…This book attempts to remedy this lack for Canadian children's literature…Recommended." - P.J. Kurtz, Minot State University, Choice

"Galway’s study provides an excellent starting point for thinking through how contemporary writers and illustrators of children’s literatures in Canada continue to negotiate issues of race, language, religion, and culture in relation to American, as well as Canadian, discourses about national identity." - Jeunesse: Young People, Texts, Cultures

Table of Contents

Series Editor’s Forward


Introduction: From Nursery Rhymes to Nationhood

Chapter One: The View From Afar: British and American Perspectives

Chapter Two: Forest, Prairie, Sea, and Mountain: Canadian Regionalism

Chapter Three: A Question of Loyalties: Britain and Canada

Chapter Four: Due South: America and Canada

Chapter Five: Sleeping With the Enemy? The Figure of the French Canadian

Chapter Six: Flint and Feather: The Figure of the Indian

Chapter Seven: Fact or Fiction? The Making of Canadian History

Chapter Eight: "The True North Strong and Free": Landscape and Environment



Selected Bibliography


About the Author

Elizabeth A. Galway received her B.A. from the University of Toronto, her M.A. from Durham University, and her Ph.D. from the University of Exeter, and is the author of articles on children’s literature, Canadian literature, and Victorian literature. She now teaches in the Department of English at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta.

About the Series

Children's Literature and Culture

Founding Editor and Series Editor 1994-2011: Jack Zipes

Series Editor, 2011-2018: Philip Nel


Founded by Jack Zipes in 1994, Children's Literature and Culture is the longest-running series devoted to the study of children’s literature and culture from a national and international perspective. Dedicated to promoting original research in children’s literature and children’s culture, in 2011 the series expanded its focus to include childhood studies, and it seeks to explore the legal, historical, and philosophical conditions of different childhoods. An advocate for scholarship from around the globe, the series recognizes innovation and encourages interdisciplinarity. Children's Literature and Culture offers cutting-edge, upper-level scholarly studies and edited collections considering topics such as gender, race, picturebooks, childhood, nation, religion, technology, and many others. Titles are characterized by dynamic interventions into established subjects and innovative studies on emerging topics.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LITERARY CRITICISM / Children's Literature