John Rowe Townsend relegates the instructional texts and chapbooks of the 17th and 18th centuries to what he refers to as “the prehistory of children’s literature.” He identifies “two branches” of this prehistory: “material that was intended specially for children or young people but was not story, and the material that was story but was not meant specially for children.” M.O. Grenby, however, argues for the inclusion of these texts in the history of British children’s literature, questioning whether “historians and critics are qualified to judge what did actually entertain seventeenth and eighteenth century children.”
Choose one of the readings published prior to 1800 from the Demers anthology (Demers, Patricia (ed). From Instruction to Delight: An Anthology of Children’s Literature to 1850. 978 019 542 8179). Referring to either Townsend’s or Grenby’s positions, your essay should contain a thesis statement that makes an argument in favour or against the inclusion of your text in the definition of children’s literature. Your analysis might consider some of the following questions: How can we tell who is the intended audience of the text? What is its function – is it to instruct? To amuse? Both? How does it attempt to instruct, amuse, or entertain the child reader?
1. Read Grenby’s introductory essay using the following URL then moving away from “home” to “introductory essay” in the top left corner of the page.
Choose 1 of any of these from the demer’s anthology, whichever suits best:
“The Hornbook” (page 25); “The Battledore” (pages 26-27); Grymeston (page 32); Leigh (page 34), Joscelin (pages 35-36); Richardson (pages 36-38); Philips (pages 38-39); Chudleigh (pages 39-43).
Comenius (47-52); “Puritan ‘Hell-fire’” (pages 53-56); Cotton (pages 57-61); Bradstreet (pages 62-65); Janeway (pages 65-69); The New England Primer (pages 73-78); Bunyan (pages 78-84); “Lyrical Instruction” (pages 85-87); “Watts (pages 88-97)
“Chapbooks and Penny Histories” (pages 103-105); “An Elegy on the Death and Burial of Cook Robin” (pages 106-112); “The Interesting Story of the Child in the Wood” (pages 113-117); “Nurse Dandlem’s Little Repository” (pages 121-128).
Read John Rowe Townsend’s “Written for children” the chapter entitled “The beginnings.” I will attach it for you if you do not have easy access to it.
from there, construct the essay as per the instructions above.
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