The Hockliffe Collection: representations of punishment in nineteenth-century stories for children
AuthorsStenson, Sarah Elizabeth
Subject Categories::Q321 English Literature by period
MetadataShow full item record
AbstractThis thesis records the findings of a large-scale enquiry into over four hundred individual stories for children that were published during the nineteenth century and held in the Hockliffe Collection at the University of Bedfordshire. It critically examines how punishments are deployed in early children’s literature, adopting a methodological approach that includes texts as they appear within the archive, regardless of authorship or perceptions of literary merit. Donated by the Hockliffe family, the texts generally complement the tradition that favoured didacticism and moral guidance. The primary corpus is dominated by instructional works from the pre-1850s, an area currently neglected in the existing critical field. The preference for fantasy, more imaginative and canonised works, and those produced in the Golden Age of Children’s literature at the Victorian fin de siècle, has resulted in tales with an explicit pedagogical agenda being side-lined, a shortcoming this thesis addresses. Where there are lessons, there are punishments, and their inclusion emphasises a range of tensions and fears. Interrogating these moments provides a valuable insight into the sort of issues that were prioritised in books for children during this period. The methodology combines close reading and literary analysis with qualitative data gathering, which produces a rich set of findings. The inclusion of a substantial body of texts allows a network of conflicting ideological views to emerge, that are nuanced and complex. The results of the primary stage have been examined within a theoretical framework that comprises intersectional theories of gender and class. Adopting a Foucauldian lens enriches the analysis of punishment and its relation to the distribution of power. The thesis begins with a critical examination of the Hockliffe archive itself and, through extensive research of the British Newspaper Archive, presents the rationale for its editing processes and positions the Collection as a unique resource for scholars. The second chapter explores changing attitudes towards punishment through a comprehensive study of the punishment of giants which transitioned from violent to non-violent across the century. From here, there is a detailed examination of tales that incorporate a critique of mothers who are held accountable for the failure of their sons. There follows a chapter that explores a female-specific punishment by which women and girls are stripped and ejected from the home, and the following chapter builds on the former by looking at the implications of social class on punishments that involve the demotion of middle-class characters. The final chapter explores how children, animals and punishment collide in these stories before ending with the analysis of stories that feature punitive metamorphosis. This thesis critically engages with authors, stories, issues and themes that have received minimal attention to date and enriches our understanding of children’s literature during this period. The punishments are located within their historical context, revealing some of the many ways in which children’s literature addressed socio-political concerns during this period. The literary landscape is a broad expanse and the study of these rare neglected texts fills some of the spaces in between.
CitationStenson,.S.E. (2020) 'The Hockliffe Collection: Representations of Punishment in Nineteenth-Century Stories for Children'. PhD thesis. University of Bedfordshire.
PublisherUniversity of Bedfordshire
TypeThesis or dissertation
Description"A thesis submitted to the University of Bedfordshire, in fulfilment of the requirements of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy".
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