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The book as looking glass : improving works for and about children in early modern England

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dc.contributor.advisor Jeffrey S. Ravel and Diana Henderson. en_US Miller, Heather, 1971 Sept. 14- en_US
dc.contributor.other Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Comparative Media Studies. en_US 2009-01-30T18:38:44Z 2009-01-30T18:38:44Z 2003 en_US 2004 en_US
dc.identifier.uri en_US
dc.description Thesis (S.M.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Comparative Media Studies, February 2004. en_US
dc.description Includes bibliographical references (leaves 61-64). en_US
dc.description.abstract This text explores three developments pertaining to children and reading in seventeenth-century England. The author aims to show how profoundly death was implicated in the development of thought about children's reading as well as in the emergence of a literature for children in the early modem period. The first chapter discusses the negative reaction to the growing phenomenon of children reading romances and adventures in chapbook form. Escapist literature was believed to make one forget one's mortal lot, which in turn decreased one's motivation for piety. Through a discussion of the threat chapbook romances posed to pious reading, the chapter establishes the historical context for a related development, the creation of a religious or moralizing literature that children would find compelling. In their quest for gripping settings, authors latched on to the deathbed scene for its felicitous blend of inherent theatricality and religious resonance. By early seventeenth century, a few women writers even used the pretext of deathbed advice to pen their own conduct-of-life manuals in an otherwise male-dominated marketplace. The second chapter discusses the prefatory rhetoric used by the two most successful female writers in this genre. The remarkable success of maternal deathbed advice literature suggests that books in Protestant culture absorbed the near-superstitious value of Catholic icons and relics. The genre also implies a Protestant adaptation of the Catholic veneration of the mother. Comfort for the motherless child no longer came from prayer to Mary, but through the reading (and perhaps holding of) a book of advice by a model (and dead) Protestant mother. An analysis of the prefaces enables a close reading of the self-fashioning en_US
dc.description.abstract of model mother-authors. The third and final chapter discusses the starring role of death in the first English-language children's book, A Token for Children, by James Janeway. The chapter explores the literary interest in the early deaths of ordinary children of extraordinary piety. By reference to the doctrine of predestination, the author speculates that these books had a comforting as well as a preparatory function, allowing parents and children to rehearse (through reading) a model death of a child undoubtedly bound for Heaven. By no means a comprehensive treatment of the connections between death culture and children's reading in the early modern period, the thesis is intended to indicate how pious reading functioned as a reminder of one's mortality and a spur to self-scrutiny. The "looking glass" of the text displayed idealized and heaven-bound children and parents compared to whom the reader may have felt sorely in need of increased vigilance. en_US
dc.description.statementofresponsibility by Heather Miller. en_US
dc.format.extent 64 leaves en_US
dc.language.iso eng en_US
dc.publisher Massachusetts Institute of Technology en_US
dc.rights M.I.T. theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from this source for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without written permission. See provided URL for inquiries about permission. en_US
dc.rights.uri en_US
dc.rights.uri en_US
dc.subject Comparative Media Studies. en_US
dc.title The book as looking glass : improving works for and about children in early modern England en_US
dc.type Thesis en_US S.M. en_US
dc.contributor.department Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Comparative Media Studies. en_US
dc.identifier.oclc 56794927 en_US

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