Psychoanalytic Responses to Children’s Literature

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About the Book

With the growing emphasis on theory in literary studies, psychoanalytic criticism is making notable contributions to literary interpretation. Sixteen chapters in this work explore the psychological subtexts of such important children’s books as Carlo Collodi’s Pinocchio, Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach, Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows, Louise Fitzhugh’s Harriet the Spy, Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper, and E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web. Drawing on the ideas of such psychoanalytic theorists as Sigmund Freud, Alice Miller, D.W. Winnicott and Jacques Lacan, it analyzes the psychological development of characters, examines reader responses, and studies the lives of authors and illustrators such as Beatrix Potter and Jessie Willcox Smith.

About the Author(s)

Lucy Rollin is professor emerita of English at Clemson University, where she taught children’s and young adult literature. She has written many books and essays on children’s literature and pop culture.

Mark I. West is chair of the English department at University of North Carolina at Charlotte and teaches children’s literature. He has written or edited a dozen books on children’s literature and culture and is a former president of the Children’s Literature Association.

Bibliographic Details

Lucy Rollin and Mark I. West

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 190
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2008 [1999]
pISBN: 978-0-7864-3764-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vii
Preface      xi
Introduction      1

1. Regression and the Fragmentation of the Self in James and the Giant Peach—Mark I. West      17
2. The Mysterious and the Uncanny in Nancy Drew and Harriet the Spy—Lucy Rollin      23
3. Uncanny Mickey Mouse and His Domestication—Lucy Rollin      31
4. Narcissism in The Wind in the Willows—Mark I. West      45
5. The Reproduction of Mothering in Charlotte’s Web—Lucy Rollin      53
6. Pinocchio’s Journey from the Pleasure Principle to the Reality Principle—Mark I. West      65
7. Gazing and Mirroring in The Prince and the Pauper—Lucy Rollin      71
8. Childhood Fantasies and Frustrations in Maurice Sendak’s Picture Books—Lucy Rollin      79
9. The Grotesque and the Taboo in Roald Dahl’s Humorous Writings for Children—Mark I. West      91
10. Good-Enough Mother Hubbard—Lucy Rollin      97
11. Humpty Dumpty and the Anxieties of the Vulnerable Child—Lucy Rollin      111
12. Dream Imagery and the Portrayal of Childhood Anxieties in Nursery Rhyme Illustrations—Lucy Rollin      119
13. Repression and Rebellion in the Life and Works of Beatrix Potter—Mark I. West      129
14. Depictions of the Mother-Child Dyad in the Work of Mary Cassatt and Jessie Willcox Smith—Lucy Rollin      141
15. Guilt and Shame in Early American Children’s Literature—Mark I. West      151
16. The Psychological Roots of Anthony Comstock’s Campaign to Censor Dime Novels—Mark I. West      159

Bibliography of Psychoanalytic Interpretations of Children’s Literature      171
Index      175

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “the absence of jargon and psychobabble and the tight focus of the essays make them eminently readable and enlightening. For all collections”—Choice
  • “Rollin and West pool their considerable expertise into a slim volume consisting of sixteen short essays…an excellent introduction…an essential text for one studying or teaching children’s literature or popular culture. …this book would be of interest to women’s studies scholars. Clear, concise, and jargon-free, the writing is accessible even for undergraduates, yet the volume is substantive…the authors’ tone sets this work apart from others of its type”—Popular Culture Association