Under Fire: Childhood in the Shadow of War
Elizabeth Goodenough, Andrea Immel
Wayne State University Press, 2008 - Literary Criticism - 289 pages
Under Fire is an eclectic, multidisciplinary collection that explores the representation of war and its aftereffects in children’s books and documentary film. This richly illustrated volume brings together internationally known contributors to examine the ongoing influence of violence and war on children’s literature by studying the childhood experiences of authors writing for children, the children represented in war stories, and the experiences of children who make up the stories’ readership. Under Fire opens timely avenues in literary studies and encourages those who work with young readers to envision children’s studies in new ways.
The first three sections explore war’s effect on children from the Children’s Crusade through World War II, with a special emphasis on the Holocaust. Contributors in these sections pay close attention to the effects of war on the collective memory and consciousness of both children and authors, investigating how these experiences serve as fodder for fantasy and as a justification for the abundance of realism in children’s books. The final section studies in detail children’s books and stories from the world-renowned Cotsen Collection at Princeton University, including C. S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia series and J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. Dedicated to the memory of Mitzi Myers, Under Fire concludes with a personal essay by Myers, who considers the unexpected and long-reaching effects of children’s literature on her own life.
Under Fire helps readers to understand why matters of life and death have always been at the heart of enduring works for children. Children’s studies scholars and students and teachers of children’s literature will appreciate this multifaceted and intriguing volume.
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