Children’s literature has a long-established tradition of classics. These include many nineteenth-century children’s fantasy novels, among which Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland (1865) and Carlo Collodi’s Le Avventure di Pinocchio (1881). What is it that defines these works as classics, however, and what significance do these texts have today? How did Pinocchio manage to be both a national and an international classic, and are the criteria for both of these achievements the same? Taking its departure from Calvino’s article, “Why read the Classics?”, this workshop will reflect on the aspects of Collodi’s novel that render it worthy of consideration as a classic. It will take the form of an open discussion about the novel and its legacy and in addition to reflecting on the many meanings associated with the word “classic” when it is employed in children’s literature, we will explore together the extent to which modern children’s literature is still indebted to the canonical and seminal works of the nineteenth century.
Required Advanced Reading
Carlo Collodi, The adventures of Pinocchio translated by Ann Lawson Lucas (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996) or the original Italian version.
Italo Calvino Why read the Classics? https://whumspring2010.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/calvino.pdf
Emer O’Sullivan, Comparative Children’s Literature (London, Routledge, 2005). Chapter Six
Laura Tosi, “Alice and Pinocchio. National stereotypes and international classic fantasy”, New Review of Children’s Literature and Librarianship, 22, 1 (2016), 70-85.
Ann Lawson Lucas, “Enquiring Mind, Rebellious Spirit: Alice and Pinocchio as non-model children”, Children’s Literature in Education, 30, 3 (1999) , pp. 157-169.
Preparatory Task for all students
Read Carlo Collodi’s Pinocchio in its original form and note down any aspects that you think make this book a classic. Consider both the subject matter and the format and style of the novel. Children’s books often become classics because they break boundaries and establish new genres. To what extent did Pinocchio do this? Can you see different genres intersecting in this novel and if so what is the effect of this? After you have read the novel and made some notes read Italo Calvino’s “Why Read the Classics” and write down a list of possible reasons why you think Pinocchio achieved the classic status about which Calvino speaks. These will be shared with the group and will direct the course of our discussion.
Written task for students taking credits
Students who want to earn credits for this workshop will submit a brief paper addressing the questions above and outlining the reasons why they think Pinocchio has achieved classic status both within and outside its country of origin (700 words). Please send the essay to email@example.com before June 26, 2020.