In “Risky Business: Talking about Children in Children’s Literature Criticism”, Marah Gubar writes that “the critical story we have been telling about children’s literature rules out the possibility that young people can function as artistic agents, participants in the production of culture” (452). In what way do particular contexts of story telling in and of themselves – whether a novel, a picture book, or a narrative of childhood as a pre-adulthood – privilege some kinds of telling, some modes of identification, over others? In what way is X bound by particular geographies and localities?
Similarly, Gubar’s account of the writing processes of Ruth Krauss and Jill Kremetz recalled for me some of the educational philosophies of John Dewey; this is a gross oversimplification, but Dewey would have predated Krauss and Kremetz to some degree, and wrote extensively on the value of a wholly democratic society, in particular towards educational strategies. Can children be democratically involved, even in the construction of books and literature as Krauss and Kremetz attempt, without wholesale recognition as democratic participants in and of themselves, rather than democrats-in-waiting? What kind of personhood does kinship enable?
This is a smaller question, but as I tried to think about Gubar and Fielder together, I centred around the question of what made a cultural artefact, and what made some artefacts legible or seem critically, academically, politically, and aesthetically important. The work that Fielder analyzes seems to stretch the boundaries of what makes certain kinds of artefacts in her consideration of folkloric figures and tropes. How do such artefacts invite, or trouble, traditional or upheld understandings of democracy, political personhood, and stability?
I like how you place Gubar and Fielder into conversation–and I think your question about cultural artefacts and scholarship is fascinating. I definitely want to talk about Fielder’s methodologies as well as her close readings…CH