The Aesthetics of Children's Poetry: A Study of Children's Verse in English, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Aesthetics of Children's Poetry

A Study of Children's Verse in English, 1st Edition

Edited by Katherine Wakely-Mulroney, Louise Joy


264 pages

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pub: 2017-11-02
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This collection gives sustained attention to the literary dimensions of children’s poetry from the eighteenth century to the present. While reasserting the importance of well-known voices, such as those of Isaac Watts, William Blake, Lewis Carroll, Christina Rossetti, A. A. Milne, and Carol Ann Duffy, the contributors also reflect on the aesthetic significance of landmark works by less frequently celebrated figures such as Richard Johnson, Ann and Jane Taylor, Cecil Frances Alexander and Michael Rosen. Scholarly treatment of children’s poetry has tended to focus on its publication history rather than to explore what comprises – and why we delight in – its idiosyncratic pleasures. And yet arguments about how and why poetic language might appeal to the child are embroiled in the history of children’s poetry, whether in Isaac Watts emphasising the didactic efficacy of “like sounds,” William Blake and the Taylor sisters revelling in the beauty of semantic ambiguity, or the authors of nonsense verse jettisoning sense to thrill their readers with the sheer music of poetry. Alive to the ways in which recent debates both echo and repudiate those conducted in earlier periods, The Aesthetics of Children’s Poetry investigates the stylistic and formal means through which children’s poetry, in theory and in practice, negotiates the complicated demands we have made of it through the ages.

Table of Contents


1 Introduction

Katherine Wakely-Mulroney and Louise Joy



2 Rhythm

Derek Attridge

3 Free Play Revisited: the Poetics of Repetition in Blake’s Songs of Innocence

Corinna Russell

4 Play

James Williams

5 Poetry in Prose: Lewis Carroll’s Sylvie and Bruno Books

Katherine Wakely-Mulroney

6 The Rational Gothic: The Case of Ann Taylor’s "The Hand-Post"

Donelle Ruwe



7 The Laughing Child: Children’s Poetry and the Comic Mode

Louise Joy

8 "We may not know, we cannot tell": Religion and Reserve in Victorian Children’s Poetics

Kirstie Blair

9 Nursery Rhymes: Poetry, Language, and the Body

Debbie Pullinger

10 "That Terrible Bugaboo": The Role of Music in Poetry for Children

Michael Heyman

11 Cognitive Poetics and The Aesthetics of Children’s Poetry: A Primer of Possibilities

Karen Coats

12 Inner Animals: Nature in Ted Hughes’s Poems for Children

David Whitley



13 Children, Poetry, and the Eighteenth-Century School Anthology

Andrew O’Malley

14 Selection

Andrea Immel

15 Anthologies

Seth Lerer



About the Editors

Katherine Wakely-Mulroney is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Centre for Liberal Arts and Social Sciences at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, and Louise Joy is a Fellow and College Lecturer in English at Homerton College, Cambridge, UK.

About the Series

Studies in Childhood, 1700 to the Present

Studies in Childhood, 1700 to the Present

This series recognizes and supports innovative work on the child and on literature for children and adolescents that informs teaching and engages with current and emerging debates in the field. Proposals are welcome for interdisciplinary and comparative studies by humanities scholars working in a variety of fields, including literature; book history, periodicals history, and print culture and the sociology of texts; theater, film, musicology, and performance studies; history, including the history of education; gender studies; art history and visual culture; cultural studies; and religion.

Topics might include, among other possibilities, how concepts and representations of the child have changed in response to adult concerns; postcolonial and transnational perspectives; "domestic imperialism" and the acculturation of the young within and across class and ethnic lines; the commercialization of childhood and children's bodies; views of young people as consumers and/or originators of culture; the child and religious discourse; children's and adolescents' self-representations; and adults' recollections of childhood.

Learn more…

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