McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
A.A. Milne, Arcadia, Children's Literature, Gertrude Stein, J.M. Barrie, Modernism
This study explores the fruitful interchanges between modernist literary technique, the culture of modernity, and children's literature. While some recent scholarship has examined works that modernist authors like Eliot, Joyce, Woolf, and Cummings produced for child readers, modernist children's literature remains a largely neglected field. Examining texts by A.A. Milne (Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner), Gertrude Stein (The World is Round), and J.M. Barrie (Peter and Wendy) through the lens of literary modernism, this project explicates how these authors adapt modernist techniques, ideologies, and preoccupations in their writing for children. Focusing on themes of alienation, disillusionment, memory, imagination, gender construction, child development, and the disruption of Arcadian myths, I argue that these texts adopt modernist techniques to explore, uphold, or challenge modernity's construction of the child. Embracing modernist indeterminacy and ambiguity, these texts directly engage with constructions of childhood as a mode of modernist experimentation. Recontextualizing these children's works in the context of literary modernism reveals how the two genres are symbiotically related, thereby broadening our understanding of literary culture and discourses of childhood in the early twentieth century.
Rovan, M. (2016). Happily Ever After? Ambiguous Closure in Modernist Children's Literature (Doctoral dissertation, Duquesne University). Retrieved from https://dsc.duq.edu/etd/1125