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Under Fire

Childhood in the Shadow of War

Edited by Elizabeth Goodenough and Andrea Immel

Childhood Studies, Cultural Studies, Literary Criticism and Theory

Landscapes of Childhood Series

Paperback
Published: May 2008
ISBN: 9780814334041
Pages: 304 Size: 7x10
Illustrations: 32 black and white images
Review

This anthology marks a critical intervention in the field, and it will no doubt inspire further work within the ever-expanding arena of children's studies.

— Lion and the Unicorn

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.

Elizabeth Goodenough is a lecturer in English at the Residential College of the University of Michigan.

Andrea Immel is the curator of Princeton University’s Cotsen Children’s Library.
Contributors: Gary Dickson, John Gall, Elizabeth Goodenough, M. O. Grenby, Mark Jonathan Harris, Mark A. Heberle, Margaret R. Higonnet, Andrea Immel, Adrienne Kertzer, Kenneth Kidd, U. C. Knoepflmacher, Mitzi Myers, Emer O’Sullivan, Pamela Reynolds, Lore Segal, Naomi Sokoloff, Maria Tatar

Contributors Include:
Adrienne Kertzer, Anna Letitia Barbauld, Emer O'Sullivan, Eric J. Johnson, Gary Dickson, John Aiken, John Gall, Kenneth B. Kidd, Lore Segal, M.O. Grenby, Maria Tatar, Mark Jonathan Harris, Mitzi Myers, Naomi Sokoloff, Pamela Reynolds, U. C. Knoepflmacher

A interdisciplinary collection, Under Fire draws primarily upon literary criticism and childhood studies, seeking to question how warefare in represented by and for children, how this changes according to time and place and what are, or should be, the purpose of such representations."

– Childhood

In the collection of Under Fire, war is read first as a historical event translated into text, but the contributors also explore the stories that emerge from the history for both child readers and the adults around them."

– Children\'s Literature Assocaition Quarterly

This anthology marks a critical intervention in the field, and it will no doubt inspire further work within the ever-expanding arena of children's studies."

– Lion and the Unicorn