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About Us


Studying Children’s Literature at Cambridge

Research in children's literature and culture in the Faculty is internationally acknowledged. In approaching our subject, we build on 50+ years of international research while developing innovative, original, and frequently cross-disciplinary methodologies for examining genres, fictionality, spatiality and temporality, narrative structure, themes and ideology, including aspects such as gender, race, class, culture, disability and age.

Archival research and theoretical frameworks employed by group members include explorations in areas such as ecocriticism, posthumanism and animal studies, cognitive narratology, spatial and material studies, digital technologies and multimedial literacies. Most of this research is qualitative; however, advanced quantitative methods, including distant reading and corpus linguistics, are becoming a significant element of research.

In our research, we address two fundamental issues:

  1. What is (and has been) children's literature, including what definitional differences emerge when we think of our object of study as literature written and marketed specifically for young audiences versus viewing it as a type of literature defined by certain characteristics that have value and meaning for readers of any age? What changes and what remains the same in our definitions as we consider children’s texts from different historical periods and cultural traditions?

  2. What is children’s and young adult literature’s role in children's and young people's intellectual, emotional and social development?  This question is addressed both through theoretical research based on reader-response theory, cultural semiotics and cognitive literary studies, and empirical research involving projects aimed at understanding the ways children and young people engage with various types of texts, including novels, poetry, nonfiction and information books, picturebooks, graphic novels, films, games, interactive print and digital texts and multimedia.

The Centre for Research in Children's Literature at Cambridge is jointly funded by the Faculty of Education and Homerton College.