A new Cambridge-Homerton Research and Training Centre for Children’s Literature has opened with the aim of consolidating 30 years of research into children’s literature to better unify the staff already researching such issues at the faculty.
Along with classics such as Treasure Island and Peter Pan, the centre will examine texts ranging from the Harry Potter and Twilight series to comic books and video games.
Speaking at the launch of the centre, Prof Maria Nikolajeva, the director, said that “children’s literature and culture are not created in a vacuum: you need the social context.”
“If what we regard as trash is popular with young people, we need to know why and whether, as researchers and teachers, we can offer them something that addresses the same needs but also deals with these themes in a critical and ethical way.”
Prof Nikolajeva, who is based at the Faculty of Education, also told The Cambridge Student (TCS) that closing the Education Tripos would be “catastrophic, silly and short-sighted beyond imagination.” She fears that dropping Education as an undergraduate Tripos would result in reduced recruitment for graduate studies at the centre.
Her concerns have been reinforced by the Undergraduate Course Manager, Mary Hilton, who told TCS that “Homerton College was the first institution to link children’s literature to literacy and cultural critique and to offer it here at Cambridge as a Tripos course. The new Centre for Children’s Literature is one outcome of this long history.”
She also said, “under the current very damaging proposals we would keep some social science papers but what we would lose in terms of arts-based and humanities courses could not be replaced.”
However, a University spokesman emphasised that no decision has yet been taken concerning the abolition of the Education Tripos, but added “it’s difficult to see how they might impact on graduate recruitment in Education because existing graduate provision in this subject area would not be altered.”
Kenichi Udagawa – News Reporter