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Distribution, evaluation and consumption networks of children’s literature

May 9, 2011

In J. D. Stahl’s Review of Hans-Heino Ewers‘s book (see below), Stahl makes mention of the ‘networks’ around children’s literature.

It is a context worth remembering when doing any research in this field.  Children’s literature scholarship is tied to the history of pedagogy and education (religious and scholastic…) and continues to participate in these arena.  It is interesting to consider the institutions that support the production and dissemination of children’s literature.

These institutions are brought to mind when Stahl writes that “Through the establishment of a public library system in Germany at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries, the supply of books for and to children came to be dominated by an evaluation system oriented toward examining children’s literature “for its educational quality, for whether it could be used in libraries, and for whether it could be made use of in schools” (93). In the second half of the twentieth century, fora for the evaluation and awarding of prizes to children’s books have multiplied, and the prestige of children’s literary criticism has risen.” (p106)

Similarly, “the systematizing and professionalizing of the distribution, evaluation, teaching, public discussion, and consumption networks of children’s literature” that Stahl mentions (p106) are not absent when we isolate a single text for analysis…  I am aware that when I analyse texts, I often ignore the influence of such networks – indeed I am participating by choosing NZ lit for this blog…

Ref: J. D. Stahl’s Review of Fundamental Concepts of Children’s Literature Research: Literary and Sociological Approaches. By Hans-Heino Ewers. Trans. from German by William J. McCann. New York and London: Routledge, 2009. in Children’s Literature Association Quarterly, Volume 35, Number 1, Spring 2010, pp. 105-107

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