Children's Fiction and the Turn to Young Adult Adventure

The details
Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 5
Thursday 03 October 2019
Saturday 14 December 2019
04 October 2018


Requisites for this module



Key module for


Module description

This module introduces the history of children's adventure stories, and explores the emergence of the multi-novel "Young Adult" genre that dominates bookshelves and literary conventions today. The module begins with the 18th century morality tale, and moves through the Victorian period of classic Children's literature, to culminate in a study of Lewis and Tolkien as founders of the modern form.

The module will explore how young readerships are constructed over time, and examine trends in adventure writing for young readers. The questions "what is an adventure?" And "what is special about young audiences?" will be addressed throughout the term.

In addition to thinking about the emergence of young adult literature as a genre in its own right, this module will examine the construction of narrative and voice in each text, as a means of examining the process of world-building in literary fiction.

Module aims

This module aims to foster students’ historical understanding of the Young Adult form, and to offer a detailed exploration of the genres of fantasy and the morality tale. The novels studied on this module are from both Europe and the USA, and students will have the opportunity to discuss trans-atlantic discrepancies and assonances across the history of children’s fiction. The literary character of writing for young readers will be explored in depth, giving students a concrete grounding in the background of contemporary popular fiction.

Module learning outcomes

After successful completion of the module, students should be able to:

1. Display a detailed knowledge of the history of the morality tale and of children’s adventure fiction.
2. Understand the key aspects of world-building in fantasy narratives.
3. Articulate the relationship between children’s and Young Adult fiction.
4. Understand and critically engage with the history of allegory as integral part of children’s fiction.

Module information

No additional information available.

Learning and teaching methods

This module will be taught by two-hour seminars, which include creative writing workshops. Students can find information about the content and format of each week on Moodle


  • Nesbit, E. (2008) Five children and It, London: Puffin.
  • Tolkien, J. R. R. (1997) The fellowship of the ring: being the first part of the Lord of the Rings, London: HarperCollins.
  • Kingsley, Charles; Smith, Jessie Willcox. (©2017) The water babies: a fairy tale for a land-baby, Mineola, New York: Calla Editions, an imprint of Dover Publications, Inc.
  • Alcott, Louisa May. (1953, reprinted 1972) Good wives, London. vol. 19
  • Carroll, Lewis. (©1998) Alice's adventures in Wonderland: and, Through the looking-glass, and what Alice found there, London: Penguin Books.
  • Coolidge, Susan. (2017) What Katy did at school, London, England: Virago Press.
  • Baum, L. Frank. (2008) The Wizard of Oz, London: Puffin.
  • Lewis, C. S. (2009) The magician's nephew, London: HarperCollins Children's. vol. bk. 1
  • Spyri, Johanna. (2009) Heidi, London: Puffin Audio.
  • Coolidge, Susan. (2017) What Katy did, London, England: Virago Press.
  • Fielding, Sarah. (1987) The governess, or, Little female academy, New York: Pandora.
  • Alcott, Louisa May; Shealy, Daniel. (2013) Little women: an annotated edition, Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework Essay plan or creative project outline (700-1,000 words) 04/11/2019 30%
Coursework Critical Essay or Creative Assignment (1,500-2,000 words) 09/12/2019 65%
Practical Participation 5%

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
LiFTS General Office – Tel. 01206 872626



External examiner

Prof Duncan James Salkeld
Professor of Shakespeare and Renaissance Literature
Available via Moodle
Of 23 hours, 23 (100%) hours available to students:
0 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

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