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From Eliza Doolittle to Harry Potter: Narratives of Youth - EDU00023I

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  • Department: Education
  • Module co-ordinator: Ms. Amanda Naylor
  • Credit value: 30 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2020-21

Module summary

This module is designed to build on your existing knowledge of and skills in studying adult and children’s literature. It is made up of two units: Education in Literature which takes place in Autumn term and Modern Fiction for Children in Spring and Summer.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2020-21 to Summer Term 2020-21

Module aims

This module is designed to build on your existing knowledge of and skills in studying adult and children’s literature. It is made up of two units: Education in Literature which takes place in Autumn term and Modern Fiction for Children in Spring and Summer.

The unit Education in Literature involves investigating education through literature. The broad learning outcome is that students acquire insights and understanding about education and the various ways in which it is represented, through exploring a variety of educational and school experiences described in a range of literary texts. This unit intends to demonstrate how such works of literature can a) illustrate educational issues and provide a springboard for debate; and b) be considered ‘educational texts’ in their own right – valuable for both children and adults, particularly those adults working or intending to work within the conventional school system.

The unit Modern Fiction for Children explores the nature of modern fiction for young people in the context of studying some of the texts written for a younger audience. The broad learning outcome is that students will read, analyse and think critically about a range of literature written both for children and teenagers. By studying a range of post-war imaginative works constructed for readers in the primary and secondary school years, this module explores the host of assumptions which underpin the books and their critical reception by adults and children. In particular, students are encouraged to reflect upon the literary and social values embedded in the texts studied, and to ask what the books have to offer to developing readers. The module explores the ways in which the texts read by young people both within and outside school convey messages to and about young people concerning their developmental, social and cultural contexts.

Module learning outcomes

Subject content

  • identify and debate key educational issues raised by the literature, with detailed reference to specific examples and quotes from the texts;

  • have developed a close knowledge of some major works of fiction for young people

  • have explored books which deal with the imaginative presentation of violence, death, bullying, death, racism, family and school life

  • consider whether the works studied suggest that it is possible to speak of a coherently English vision of educational issues;

  • relate these to their own experiences of education, so that they start to question and re-evaluate their beliefs and assumptions;

  • develop critical analysis skills, objectively assessing a range of different view-points in order to understand and to argue about controversial educational issues.


Academic and graduate skills


Students will be expected to locate and engage with a variety of literary, literary critical, and theoretical sources as well as educational research. They will practice extracting key points from articles, identifying arguments and the evidence which support these. Students will be asked to engage with debates on set texts and resources. They will be required to communicate effectively orally and in writing. Students will also develop their IT skills by interacting with the VLE as an integral aspect of this module.

Module content

Module Content

The module has 22 class meetings (9 in the Autumn Term weeks 2-10; 9 in the Spring Term weeks 2-10; and 3 in the Summer Term weeks 2-4). These will involve tutor-led input, lectures, small group activities, class debates and student presentations using a range of materials. Each class will require the students to do preparatory readings and to complete follow-up activities. Preparatory readings will take the form of academic papers, reports, newspaper articles or policy documents. The weekly required readings and the follow-up activities are clearly outlined on the VLE. Follow-up activities will be varied but may include creative writing, independent research, keeping a glossary of key terms etc.

An outline of the sessions week by week:


Autumn Term

All the sessions are based upon the close reading of a key focus text or texts, but students will be expected to read widely around and beyond this core.


Week 2 Theme: “You’ve got to tell us why you’re doing it”

Focus text: An Education – Lynn Barber

Week 3 Theme: “Learning me your language”

Focus text: The Tempest – William Shakespeare

Week 4 Theme: Sex and relationships through Horror

Focus text: Let the Right One In - John A Lindqvist

Week 5 Theme: “The deepest gulf that separates class from class"

Focus texts: Pygmalion – George Bernard Shaw

Week 6 Theme: Australia's Stolen Generation

Focus texts: Rabbit-proof fence - Philip Noyce and Doris Pilkington Garrimara

Week 7 Theme: “No one forgets a good teacher”

Focus texts: The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie – Muriel Spark

Week 8 Theme: Satirising education

Focus texts: The History Man – Malcolm Bradbury

Week 9 Theme: Education Under Dictatorship

Focus text: Without You There is No Us - Suki Kim

Week 10 Theme: What have we learned?

Focus texts: Comparative readings suggested by students

Spring Term

Week 2. Theme: Introduction to module

Focus text: The world of children’s books

Week 3. Theme: How texts teach what readers learn – picture books and their role in developing literacy

Focus texts; John Burningham John Patrick Norman McHennessy: the boy who was always late; Where’s Julius;Come Away from the water, Shirley;Time to Get Out of the Bath, Shirle; Janet and Allan Ahlberg The Jolly Postman; Browne, A.Change; Wadell, M (ill. Helen Oxenbury) Farmer Duck.

Week 4. Theme; Exploring a children’s classic

Focus Text: White, E.B. Charlotte’s Web

Week 5. Theme; Humour, violence and the use of fear

Focus Texts: Morpurgo, M. Private Peaceful and Dahl, R. The Witches

Week 6. Theme; Portraits of the family -

Focus Texts: Wilson, J. The Illustrated Mum

Week 7. Theme; Controversial Fiction

Focus text: Downham, J. Before I Die

Week 8 Theme; Racism and Multiculturalism

Focus Text: Blackman, M. Noughts and Crosses

Week 9. Theme; Shocking Texts

Focus text: Collins, S. The Hunger Games

Week 10. Theme; What should be on the curriculum?

Focus text: Golding, W. The Lord of the Flies


Summer Term

Week 1. Assessment workshop and directed study tasks.

Week 2 Theme; Adults’ judgements and children’s tastes

Focus Texts: Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Week 3. Theme; Fantasy

Focus Text: Pullman, P. The Northern Lights

Week 4. Individual tutorials to discuss essay titles




Task Length % of module mark
Essay (2000 words)
N/A 40
Essay (3000 words)
N/A 60

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

. Formative; i.e. written work submitted during the module.

  • A short written task is required midway through the Autumn Term and the Spring Term. In the Autumn Term students will submit an essay plan in week 9, written feedback will be given on this in week 10. In Spring/Summer students will work in groups on presentations and handouts on key texts. Each week will start with a presentation that reviews the learning from the previous week and builds on this with extra readings. Each group will produce a handout for the other students and the presentations and handouts will put on the VLE. Individuals will be allocated tasks within the research and preparation for the group presentations. There will be tutor and peer feedback on each presentation and handout.

ii. Procedural; i.e. seminar performance.

  • Students’ presentations are expected to be well prepared. Contributions to discussion are expected to be well informed and thoughtful. Each student will be expected to undertake preparation for each session, and to play an active role in class tasks and group presentations. Students are expected to undertake preparatory and follow-up reading and to draw on this in class discussion. Ongoing feedback will be provided on students’ participation in these activities and overall feedback on seminar performance is provided in the end of module report.

iii. Summative; i.e. final submission of written work to be assessed.

  • The assessment grade for this module will be based solely on the submission of two essays, one of 2,000 words and one of 3,000 words in length, chosen by the student on some aspect of one of the topics covered in the module. The first essay will be submitted in the Spring Term Week 1, and the second essay will be submitted in the Summer Term Week 6. The marks for these two essays will be weighted 40% and 60% respectively in producing your overall mark for this module.



Task Length % of module mark
Essay (2000 words)
N/A 40
Essay (3000 words)
N/A 60

Module feedback

Written feedback on assignment report sheet and face-to-face feedback in supervisions. The feedback is returned to students in line with university policy. Please check the Guide to Assessment, Standards, Marking and Feedback for more information.

Indicative reading

The texts listed throughout the module description above are weekly essential reading. Before obtaining physical copies of the older texts, students may wish to check whether they are available online via Project Gutenberg where than can be downloaded free of charge onto your computer, Kindle etc. Beyond this, a wide range of reading is expected of students on the course amongst the many works of literature which explore the themes of childhood, school and education, beyond that detailed in the reading lists and by the module tutors. They should also consult relevant journals such as Children’s Literature in Education.

Additionally, students may wish to refer to the following:



Bell, M. (2007) Open Secrets: Literature, Education, and Authority from J-J Rousseau to J.M. Coetzee. Oxford: University Press.


Blake, N. et al (2003) The Blackwell Guide to the Philosophy of Education. Oxford: Blackwell.

Coveney, P. (1957) Poor Monkey: The Child in Literature London: Rockliff.

Coveney, P. (1967) Image of Childhood: The Individual and Society Harmondsworth: Penguin

May, P., Ashford, E and Bottle, G. (2006) Sound Beginnings: Learning and Development in the Early Years. London: David Fulton.

Miles, R. (1994) The Children We Deserve London: Harper Collins.

Morrison, B. (1997) As if. London: Granta Books.

Palmer, J. and Cooper, D. E. (Eds) (2001) Fifty Modern Thinkers on Education from Piaget to the Present Day. London: Routledge.

Palmer, J., Bresler, L. and Cooper, D.E. (Eds) (2001) Fifty Major Thinkers on Education: from Confucious to Dewey. London: Routledge.

Porter, J. (1999) Reschooling and the Global Future London: Symposium Books

Postman, N. (1983) The Disappearance of Childhood London: W.H. Allen.


Spring and Summer Terms


Granby M.O & Immel. A. (eds) (2009) Cambridge Companion to Children’s Literature, Cambridge, C.U.P.

Hunt, P. (1994) An Introduction to Children’s Literature Oxford, Opus, 1994.

Hunt, P. (1996) International Companion: Encyclopaedia of Children’s literature .London, Routledge

Reynolds, K. Children’s literature in the 1890s and 1990s. London: Northcoates House, 1994.

Meek, M (1988) How Texts Teach What Readers Learn. Stroud, Thimble Press

Pinsent, P. (1993) (Ed.) The Power of the Page. London, David Fulton.




The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.