McCulloch, Fiona

About the author: Dr. Fiona McCulloch was born in Scotland and completed her PhD at Liverpool University in 1998. Having taught at several universities, she is now Lecturer in English Literature at Manchester Metropolitan University. She has published poetry and articles on Children’s Literature.

Fictional Role of Childhood in Victorian and Early Twentieth Century Children’s Literature
2004 0-7734-6451-4
This book studies canonical children’s literature during what is perceived to be the first Golden Age of this genre. Building upon critical studies, such as Jacqueline Rose’s The Case of Peter Pan, the instability at the heart of children’s literature is examined. The notion that children’s fiction promotes a discursive innocence is resisted by analyzing texts written specifically for a child readership. Textual tensions and desires inscribed from adult culture’s penmanship, and the subversion of childhood’s mythopoeic status are unveiled through critical analysis, highlighting the complex imbalance between adult narrator and child character.

Just as childhood and its connotations of innocence are a cultural adult production, so must children’s fiction incorporate an element of adult masquerade, where the child character embodies a performative dimension of the adult narrator’s psyche. A critical metaphor, ‘textual pedophilia’ encapsulates the literary and discursive desire for innocence ruptured by the adult palimpsest of a postlapsarian authorial presence. The title refers to the imaginative preoccupations of childhood as transfixed by a performative adult creativity hiding behind a fraudulent mask of pristine innocence. Ultimately, it is a playful genre that, far from promoting idealized innocence, often questions such discourses and subverts them.