Children's Culture and the Avant-Garde

Painting in Paris, 1890-1915

By Marilynn Strasser Olson

© 2012 – Routledge

230 pages | 20 B/W Illus.

Purchasing Options:
Hardback: 9780415872683
pub: 2012-08-25
US Dollars$145.00

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About the Book

This volume explores the mutual influences between children’s literature and the avant-garde. Olson places particular focus on fin-de-siècle Paris, where the Avant-garde was not unified in thought and there was room for modernism to overlap with children’s literature and culture in the Golden Age. The ideas explored by artists such as Florence Upton, Henri Rousseau, Sir William Nicholson, Paula Modersohn-Becker, and Marc Chagall had been disseminated widely in cultural productions for children; their work, in turn, influenced children’s culture. These artists turned to children’s culture as a "new way of seeing," allied to a contemporary interest in international artistic styles. Children’s culture also has strong ties to decadence and to the grotesque, the latter of which became a distinctively Modernist vision.

This book visits the qualities of the era that were defined as uniquely childlike, the relation of childhood to high and low art, and the relation of children’s literature to fin-de-siècle artistic trends. Topics of interest include the use of non-European figures (the Golliwogg), approaches to religion and pedagogy, to oppression and motherhood, to Nature in a post-Darwinian world, and to vision in art and life. Olson’s unique focus covers new ground by concentrating not simply on children's literature, but on how childhood experiences and culture figure in art.

Table of Contents

1. Turn-of-the-Century Grotesque: the Uptons’ Golliwogg in Context 2. Henri Rousseau: Jungles Transformed 3. Sir William Nicholson: A Swashbuckling Time 4. Paula Modersohn-Becker: Someone who has a long road in front of her doesn’t run 5. Marc Chagall: I was not born simply to seek pleasure

About the Author

Marilynn Strasser Olson is Professor of English at Texas State University, San Marcos, US. She is the author of Ellen Raskin (1991) and was an editor of Children’s Literature Association Quarterly from 1991–2000.

About the Series

Children's Literature and Culture

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 / European / General
LITERARY CRITICISM / Children's Literature