Locating the Child in American Studies, Part 1

Forgiving Our Fathers (and Mothers): The Role of Adolescence in Crisis Narratives within American Studies and Children’s Literature

Dr Emily Murphy brings the first in a series of posts exploring the intersections between American studies and children’s literature. The remarks presented here by Julia Mickenberg and Donald Pease are from the launch event for Murphy’s new book, Growing Up with America, which took place on 1 September 2021. This series makes space for continued conversations which Murphy believes the newer field of childhood studies helps to facilitate. The next part of this series will explore more the role of adolescence in shaping and bridging these two fields of study.

In his 1998 film, Smoke Signals, American Indian author Sherman Alexie quotes the poem “Forgiving Our Fathers” by Dick Lourie. One of the main characters in Alexie’s film, an eccentric orphan named Thomas-Builds-the-Fire, asks, “How do we forgive our fathers? Maybe in a dream…Do we forgive our fathers in our age, or in theirs? Or in their deaths, saying it to them or not saying it. If we forgive our fathers, what is left?” The question of how to “forgive our fathers” is one that is relevant to many fields of study, but I’d like to approach it from two fields that are central to my own research: American studies and children’s literature. At the source of the question raised by Lourie’s poem about fathers is an anxiety about the absence left when the tension between and the older and younger generation dissipates: does this lack of tension, often the source of new critical insights in the case of academia, leave the one who forgives feeling empty and uninspired? Or, in forgiving those who came before, are we actually setting ourselves free and escaping the boundaries (disciplinary or otherwise) set by them?

On the one-year anniversary of the publication of my first monograph, Growing Up with America (2020), I had the pleasure of engaging in a dialogue about intersections between childhood studies and American studies with Donald Pease and Julia Mickenberg. Pease, as those in American studies will well know, has greatly contributed to the field as it currently stands, adding to conversations about the “transnational turn” in American studies and opening up new insights into the field as founder/director of the Futures of American Studies Institute and editor of the New Americanists series from Duke University Press. Similarly, Julia Mickenberg is an early advocate for bridging the fields of American studies and children’s literature, drawing our attention to the radical politics in both and recognizing the importance of girlhood, in particular, through her scholarship on Cold War politics. In their commentary on the book, they make a series of important criticisms about the potential risk of the narrative I create in Growing Up with America, which seeks to intervene in the field of American studies by revealing the role of adolescence in the shaping of some of its early history, particularly in the Cold War era when the myth-symbol criticism became popular through the efforts of founding figures that included Henry Nash Smith, Perry Miller, R.W.B. Lewis, and Leo Marx.

Landmark texts by the myth and symbol scholars of American studies

What is at risk here, as both Pease and Mickenberg rightfully pointed out, is that in returning to this scholarship we repeat it—something I think that connects to larger conversations about “decolonizing the curriculum” that are happening more broadly within literary studies. This is an argument that American studies has circled back to again and again, and that is most eloquently described in Brian T. Edwards and Dilip Parameshwar Gaonkar’s edited collection Globalizing American Studies (2010), to which Pease also contributes. In the introduction to this collection, Edwards and Gaonkar remark on what they call “founding” and “crisis” narratives, which they view as responses to some of the central currents of “disciplinary anxiety” within the field. They define these two types of narratives as follows: the founding narrative employs a metacritical approach whereby either new objects of study and/or methods of studying these objects are put forward; in the case of the crisis narrative, however, a “discursive rather than performative” mode is more common. This type of narrative is metacritical in a way that is distinct from that of founding narratives, and on occasion uses these founding narratives as a springboard for its insights (8). Edwards and Gaonkar give the example of Amy Kaplan’s influential essay, “Left Alone with America” (1993), where she first analyses the intellectual impulses in myth-symbol critic Perry Miller’s preface to the Errand into the Wilderness (1956). However, in returning to the founding myths of America that Miller deploys in his scholarship, Kaplan also “unwittingly reinstalls exceptionalism” by failing to locate the United States in a global framework (Edwards and Gaonkar 9). It is a classic conundrum, in the sense that by returning to foundational texts, even without intention, scholars take the risk (and I am guilty of this myself) of letting these voices and the narratives they promote continue to have dominance.

There are now a rich and diverse number of studies exploring topics related to childhood and national identity in American culture.

We have seen a similar critical turn within children’s literature, whose own founding narrative begins with figures such as Jacqueline Rose. Rose, who famously declared that “children’s fiction is impossible”—by now one of the most-cited phrases within children’s literature criticism—was preoccupied with language, fantasy, and desire, in large part due to her own investment in Lacanian theory (1). Rose launched a set of disciplinary anxieties specific to children’s literature that continue to permeate the field, in a manner similar to the myth of American exceptionalism which plagues American studies. How, those in the field of children’s literature continue to ask themselves, can we take account of the power dynamics between adult and child in the production and consumption of children’s fiction? And, more recently, to what extent does the child have a say in all of this? A special anniversary edition of Children’s Literature Association (ChLA) Quarterly from 2010 offered a “return to Rose,” but far more insightful are critical essays that attempt a more daring paradigm shift, breaking from Rose’s limiting critical lens for interpreting childhood and children’s literature. I am thinking, for instance, of Marah Gubar’s wonderful essay “Risky Business: Talking about Children in Children’s Literature Criticism” (2013), where she discards what she calls the “difference” and “deficit” models of childhood in favor of a more flexible model of growth—the “kinship model”—that rejects the binary opposition of adult/child altogether (450).

Joseph Krumgold, the first author to win the Newbery award twice, praises Lena de Grummond for her innovative approach to including children in children’s literature, solving what he calls the “communications gap” between the adults who produce children’s books and the young readers who consume them. [Image courtesy of the de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection].

While American studies has yet to locate the child within the field to this extent, there are some interesting moments of critical overlap. Rose, for example, appears in Pease’s influential study The New American Exceptionalism. Here, though, Pease is not looking to her famous work on children’s fiction, The Case of Peter Pan, but rather to her later work on the role of fantasy in relation to English studies in States of Fantasy (1998). Rose’s interest in a psychoanalytic approach to fantasy remains, over ten years after the publication of her study on children’s fiction, and Pease utilizes this scholarship to talk about what he calls the “state fantasy” of American exceptionalism (7). Similarly, in Beverly Lyon Clark’s Kiddie Lit, which is still a definitive history of the field, American studies enters into her argument about the marginalization of children’s literature and childhood. Here, Clark remarks on the way in which, if it did enter the conversation, childhood was simply a reflection on adolescent rebellion in a larger narrative of manhood promoted by the early proponents of American studies (67). In reflecting, then, on founding myths, it is perhaps these moments where one field enters into the other that provides the richer context for the role of childhood and adolescence in shaping American culture and literary thought. As Julia Mickenberg raises in her observations about the shifting academic landscape at the annual American Studies Association meeting, there is now a significantly larger group of children’s literature scholars who have been drawn and converted to the insights offered by American studies. I am certainly a good example of this having trained in children’s literature and only having come to the scholarship of American studies in 2012 after passing my PhD exams and embarking on my dissertation project, which is the early version of Growing Up with America.

So where does this leave us in terms of the founders? Firstly, there is the question of who constitutes as a founder? Is it the “fathers” of the myth-symbol school? Is it a founding “mother” such as Jacqueline Rose—a mother, importantly, who abandoned her “child” (if we continue with the familial metaphors) of children’s literature? And, importantly, in casting ourselves as “fathers” or “mothers,” “sons” or “daughters,” are we doing a disservice to children, who we employ metaphorically to create narratives of progress about these academic fields of study? (I am thinking, for instance, back to the 2010 issue of ChLA Quarterly I mentioned earlier, where Perry Nodelman quips about the “possibility of growing wiser,” in a play on Rose’s famous quote on children’s fiction). The truth is that both fields are continually being founded and refounded, and this isn’t because American studies or children’s literature has “grown up” into a new, mature self—that would do a disservice to children who we are then casting as immature and naïve. Instead, we might take our clue from childhood studies and the models of growth, such as those I have cited here, that seek to disrupt such linear narratives of progress and maturation. In doing so, even if we cannot completely escape it, we might be able to alleviate some of the disciplinary anxieties at the root of both fields and break the cyclical pattern of a return to the founders that limits the boundaries of them.

Works Cited

Clark, Beverly Lyon. Kiddie Lit: The Cultural Construction of Children’s Literature in America. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003. Print.

Edwards, Brian T., and Dilip Parameshwar Gaonkar, eds. “Introduction: Globalizing American Studies.” Globalizing American Studies. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010. 1–44. Print.

Gubar, Marah. “Risky Business: Talking about Children in Children’s Literature Criticism” (2013).

Nodelman, Perry. “Former Editor’s Comments: Or, The Possibility of Growing Wiser.” Children’s Literature Association Quarterly 35.3 (2010): 230–242. Print.

O’Brien, Sharon. “Commentary.” In Locating American Studies: The Evolution of a Discipline. Ed. Lucy Maddox. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999. 110–113. Print.

Pease, Donald. The New American Exceptionalism. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2009. Print.

Rose, Jacqueline. The Case of Peter Pan. 1984. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1992. Print.

Smoke Signals. Dir. Chris Eyre. Miramax Films, 1999. DVD.

Rebels, Riots, and the American Teen

Dr Emily Murphy introduces her new book, Growing up with America: Youth, Myth, and National Identity, 1945 to Present

Starr leading a protest for her
deceased friend

In the aftermath of George Floyd’s death, a number of protests emerged internationally to support the Black Lives Matter movement. It’s a turn that raised with urgency the question of who belongs in America and how the rights of the nation’s marginalized citizens can be protected. As the harrowing footage captured for Floyd’s case revealed, it’s not always lawmakers who can be trusted to protect these rights. This is a message that American teenagers have tried to make clear both on the silver screen and in public protests. In Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give (2017), protagonist Starr Carter is left devastated after her childhood friend is unjustly shot by a policeman. In the 2018 film adaptation of this young adult novel, one of the most powerful images is Starr’s raised fist as she leads a peaceful protest. In this moment, Starr not only represents the Black Lives Matter Movement but also the figure of the rebel that is often associated with American adolescence.

James Dean is the suburban cowboy

At the start of the 1950s, the image of the rebel teen was popularized both in response to the national mood, a time when the nation was anxiously trying to “grow up” and establish itself as a world power, and in response to a rapidly expanding youth market following an increase in birth rates during the “Baby Boom.” Heroic male figures—all white—included a youthful cast such as James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause (1955) and drew upon Western myths of the frontiersman. These new bad boys moved the frontiersman out of the flat plains of the West and into the cookie-cutter neighbourhoods of suburbia.

The suburban “bad boy” produced through popular culture supported Cold War rhetoric of the United States as an exceptional nation, one that was whitewashed and sanitized for mass consumption. But tucked away beneath these celebratory narratives of national power and might were stories of marginalized Americans, often told through the same figure of adolescence that gained currency through the teen icons of popular culture. In some of the most explosive literature of the decade, there are glimmers of the adolescent’s true potential as a rebel, which worked to upturn hundreds of years of history and give voice to those previously silenced.

Nabokov’s controversial 1955 novel reflects the colonial violence of the nation

One of the most heart-wrenching, and perhaps most recognized canonical works of the period, is Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita (1955). In my book, Growing Up with America (2020), I argue that Lolita’s story of loss and suffering is reflective of the colonial violence of the nation. While her body is often described as lean and muscular, it is the variation in her complexion that is intriguing: at times the light skin of the white girl that she is and other times a dark brown. Lolita might easily remind readers of a spoiled suburban teenager with the way she is described by protagonist Humbert Humbert, who takes advantage of the death of Lolita’s mother to pursue an unwanted sexual relationship with the young girl. But there is something haunting in the voice that Nabokov creates in this novel that strips away Humbert Humbert’s fantasy. Nabokov hints at this association in Lolita’s collection of American Indian handicrafts, and through other key moments within the novel. In a scene where Lolita is shivering from an unnaturally high temperature—importantly the illness that enables her ultimate escape from Humbert Humbert—Lolita is shown at her most vulnerable and these subtle associations come to the fore, urging readers to think about repressive systems of power that have silenced those who do not belong to a white (and often male) majority. Lolita is what I call a “virgin girl,” a figure that dispels the myth of an empty and conquerable land that is devoid of people, which helps to justify westward expansion in the nineteenth century and neocolonialism beyond U.S. borders in the twentieth century and beyond.

While Lolita remains firmly positioned within white middle-class suburban culture (she is, after all, a white girl no matter how she is portrayed), her character functions as a quiet act of subversion that helped to upturn national myths that celebrated white masculinity within American culture. That is, Lolita’s body still alludes to the history of colonial violence against those who were marginalized due to their race through her association with American Indian culture, a connection I argue in my book that Nabokov intentionally developed. Lolita’s very often silent protest to such injustices grows louder over time as it is joined and made stronger by the contributions of Native women writers including Linda Hogan, Lesley Marmon Silko, and Louise Erdrich. Their work serves to demonstrate the ways in which American literature has worked to light a fire of rebellion to promote positive and meaningful change in the nation, opening up spaces to revisit the question “What does it mean to be an American?” and reminding us that, so long as injustice persists, there will continue to be young rebels seeking to right these wrongs.

Emily Murphy is Lecturer in Children’s Literature at Newcastle University. Her book is now available for purchase from the University of Georgia Press. To reserve a space at the book launch event for Growing Up with America, register here. For guest talks, contact Dr. Murphy at emily.murphy@newcastle.ac.uk.

“Can you hear me?”: Digital learning in lockdown and beyond

In July 2020, Emily Murphy was invited, by the Literature Speaker Series within the School for English Literature, Language and Linguistics at Newcastle, to run a seminar on ‘Reinventing Your Work in Lockdown’. Emily workshopped ideas with a group of PGRs within the CLU before running her seminar. What followed was a series of honest, challenging and hopeful conversations about how to move forward in a field of work that has, just like everything else, been deeply affected by our current pandemic. This is the second of our series of reflections from different members of the CLU, in which recently graduated MLitt student Lauren Aspery reflects on the ways in which the landscape of online learning offers new ways to make university more accessible.

Lauren Aspery

Since the beginning of lockdown, those of us learning, researching and teaching from home have become all too familiar with video calls. Cats strolling across keyboards, infants interrupting, “Unmute yourself! I can’t hear you!”, and the awkward pause while you try to hang up and wonder when to stop waving back at your colleagues. These are just some examples of how university has looked during the pandemic. In turning to technology, universities across the country have been able to keep courses running and have supported staff and students while campuses are closed. We have quickly adapted to the changing circumstances we find ourselves in, replacing physical interaction with digital interaction. Yet, a lot of these resources have been there all along, so why haven’t we been using them?

A few years ago during my undergraduate degree, I had an extended period of absence after a complicated case of the flu. The School of English at Newcastle were really supportive of my circumstances, and I received nothing but kindness and compassion from my seminar leaders. However, when I approached staff about working remotely, I received mixed responses. Some were quick to offer digital solutions, suggesting I could join seminars via Skype and provided me with access to ReCap recordings, where others collected hand-outs for me to pick up at a later date and suggested I needn’t worry about catching up. Decisions, decisions!

Spending time away from campus and missing seminars, lectures and general social interaction was really frustrating, and it’s been a familiar feeling attempting to write my MLitt dissertation during lockdown. But while for me, this is a sudden alternative to my usual trips to the library and one-to-one supervisions, there are thousands of students who were already unable to attend face to face teaching, having long been faced with the limitations the rest of us have only been introduced to over the past few months. Those who have disabilities, those who research remotely, those who have caring responsibilities and a whole list of other circumstances that make on-campus learning less accessible could have benefited from the likes of Zoom, Teams, Slack and ReCap before they became a widespread necessity.

So where do we go from here? Should students be able to join seminars via video if they are unable to physically attend? Should hand-ins be electronic only? Should recorded sessions be automatically available to students? While there is no knowing what universities will do in the long run, one thing is certain: this lockdown period has proven the resilience and adaptability of staff and students, where no amount of awkward video calls and bad Wi-Fi connections have stopped us from learning, researching and communicating (even if it isn’t at the pace we’re used to). But this shouldn’t be a temporary fix. Universities have opened the door to the digital classroom, proving they have the capacity and technology to keep it wide open for those who need it.

Banner image: Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Just take it slow: how to beat pandemic burnout

In July 2020, Emily Murphy was invited, by the Literature Speaker Series within the School for English Literature, Language and Linguistics at Newcastle, to run a seminar on ‘Reinventing Your Work in Lockdown’. Emily workshopped ideas with a group of PGRs within the CLU before running her seminar. What followed was a series of honest, challenging and hopeful conversations about how to move forward in a field of work that has, just like everything else, been deeply affected by our current pandemic. This is the first of a series of reflections from different members of the CLU, born out of these conversations in July. The subsequent reflections will follow as we move into autumn.

Emily Murphy

Let me provide full disclosure: I have a very energetic two-year old who hasn’t been to nursery since March. Nearly six months post-lockdown and I’ll admit that my research is intermittent, nowhere near what it was earlier in the semester before everything closed down in the UK. My situation is hardly unique and many of us are facing our own challenges caused by the coronavirus pandemic. While I’ve certainly practiced selfcare, including indulging in an afternoon nap or Netflix binge when needed, I also want to get back to the projects I started before lockdown. So how do you manage when your mind is actively turning back to your research and yet you still feel exhausted from the emotional stress caused by the pandemic or the extra workload in either your personal or work life?


Having recently picked up running like so many others during lockdown (thanks, NHS, for the nifty Couch to 5k programme), it strikes me that research is a lot like running. Many of us have taken a long break from research out of necessity, and to try to work in the way we did pre-lockdown is just not feasible. If you suffered a knee or ankle injury and took four months off of running, you wouldn’t just step out your door and start running a 10k. No, you’d do gentle exercise, perhaps even walking, and radically increase your mileage and pace as you eased back into your normal routine.

Even in running circles, the benefits of taking it slow are advocated.

Even in running circles, the benefits of taking it slow are advocated.

The same should go for our research. Just like exercise, daily research and writing is a habit that we have to build, and it’s perfectly possible for our ‘mental muscles’ to atrophy a bit during a long break. I don’t mean that we’re less capable of this work, but it may be hard to sustain the same kind of focus that we once did. So, while pre-lockdown you may have been happy to read for two hours and write for an additional two, you may want to cut that down to just twenty to thirty minutes to start out. By slowly building up and seeing the progress in your research project, you can then add more time as you feel ready. (For running, it’s 10% per week and we might equally apply rules of building back up to our research intensity as scholars).

Similarly, we need to be attentive to our “burnout threshold.” In building back up to a more intense research capacity, we also have to be honest about what we can manage to do. Five minutes once a day while you take a shower? Great! 10 minutes to jot down a few sentences or two? Sure, that’s still more than what you had written yesterday! As newspaper headlines continue to remind us, we’re still in a “new normal,” meaning that work life is anything but the same with many of us dealing with much higher workloads to meet the demands of changes in the higher education sector. In such a situation, slow-paced research makes good sense as a way of protecting our mental health and avoiding burnout, and in fact is a method that some of the most active and respected children’s literature scholars I know practice (because let’s face it, time for research is never easy to find). Pre- or post-lockdown, taking it slow just works.

So the next time you feel guilty about not working, just repeat the mantra, ‘Take it slow. Take…it…slow.’ We’ve all got our own needs, and there’s no shame in working at a pace that enables you to be happy and healthy, and that will allow you to maintain your research agenda for the long-term. Happy writing!

Banner image by Green Chameleon on Unsplash

‘Only real books can produce real readers’ (Signal 64) – Remembering Elaine Moss

Dr Hazel Sheeky Bird

Late last week we received the sad news that Elaine Moss had died, aged 96. Over a long career as a children’s librarian, book reviewer, critic, broadcaster and writer, Moss’s impact on British children’s books has been considerable. Never losing sight of the children in children’s books, she was a vociferous advocate for the centrality of good books to children’s literacy.

The great impact that children’s librarians have had on British children’s books has never really been acknowledged. As such, Moss’s name and work may well be little known today. The fact is that for over 30 years, Moss worked tirelessly not only to promote knowledge about children’s books but to also get them into the hands of children, teachers and parents. On receiving the Eleanor Farjeon Award in 1976, the Children’s Book Circle noted that ‘it is not only her constant efforts to promote the cause of children’s books that single out Elaine Moss’s contribution; it is her unique concern both with communicating her own enthusiasm for books as a medium of enjoyment and with bringing books for children to children’ (quoted in Signal 23, May 1977).

Reproduced from Elaine Moss, ‘Accepting the Eleanor Farjeon Award’ in Signal 24, Sept 1977, p. 119.

Looking back on her professional life (Signal 91, Jan 2000), Moss described the beginnings of a career rooted somewhat in happenstance. Born in London in 1924, she recalled that neither of her parents was particularly bookish but she remembered her mother reading Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to the family, and Moss herself was a keen reader. At 16, due to the Second World War, she found herself school-less. As she was fond of reading, her mother sent her off to the local library to ask for a job . . . they put her in charge of the children’s library. She read History at Bedford College giving rise to a particular interest in children’s historical fiction in later life. After undertaking teacher training, she found herself working at a boarding school in Haslemere, largely teaching English to refugees from Europe. This was followed by chartership examinations to become a librarian, although not a children’s librarian, such a role did not exist at that time.

It was Moss’s experience of working with legendary children’s editor Grace Hogarth that marked the real turning point in her career. Having had to give up work on getting married, in 1955 she went to work as a part-time PA for Grace Hogarth, who at that point worked as a scout for four American publishers. A self-described ‘Grace’s girl’ (Signal 78, Sept 1995) she credited Grace Hogarth as her mentor. By 1955, Hogarth already had a network of women who worked for her as readers while also raising their families. When Grace Hogarth set up Constable Young Books, Moss started reading for her there. It was here that Moss was introduced to fellow Grace’s girl, Nancy Chambers; this was to prove fortuitous for both women, marking the beginning of a long association between them.

By the 1970s, Elaine Moss was a prominent figure in her own right. As well as broadcasting on popular programmes such as Women’s Hour, from 1970 she selected the National Book League’s Children’s Books of the Year exhibition, for which she wrote its influential annotated catalogues. In an era which is often regarded as a ‘second golden age’ of children’s literature, Moss made an important contribution to the critical discourse around the subject, contributing articles to mainstream publications including The Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, the Times Literary Supplement, and The Spectator, as well as to specialist children’s book publications like Children’s Book News. In so doing, she helped to define children’s literature as an important part of British cultural life. Significantly, she retained a foot in the real reading lives of children by continuing to work as a part-time librarian at a primary school.

Moss’s friendship with Nancy Chambers, along with their shared desire to give children’s books the serious attention they deserve, led to Moss’s close involvement with important children’s literature journal Signal: Approaches to Children’s Books (1970-2003), edited by Nancy Chambers. Moss wrote 46 articles for Signal over its 100 issues, contributed an important chapter on ‘The Seventies in British Children’s Books’ to The Signal Approach to Children’s Books (Kestrel, 1980) and, with Nancy Chambers, compiled the indispensable Signal Companion: A Classified Guide to 25 Years of ‘Signal: Approaches to Children’s Books’ (Thimble Press, 1996). This body of work offers today’s readers a clear insight into Moss’s breadth of knowledge and the strength of her advocacy for children’s literacy through literature.

Speaking at the twenty-second IBBY congress in 1990, Moss characteristically argued that uninspiring reading schemes did not produce real readers and that, ‘If literacy in the developed world is to be worth acquiring in more than the functional sense, we should now be concentrating our efforts on ensuring that children of all social and economic backgrounds are given the opportunity to sample, at an early age, the best stories and poems that folklore, true poets and authors of integrity can offer’ (Signal 64, Jan 1991, p. 17).

Looking back at Elaine Moss’s pieces in Signal it is striking how relevant so much of her work remains. Two articles in 1978, ‘Them’s for the Infants, Miss’ Parts One and Two (Signal 26, May and Signal 27, Sept) argued strongly for the use of picturebooks with older children. Like other Signal contributors, Moss went on to develop this work into a specialist Thimble Press publication: Picture Books 9 to 13 was first published in 1981 and by 1992 was in its third edition. It remains an invaluable guide.

One of Elaine Moss’s scrapbooks from the 1970s. Courtesy of the Seven Stories collection.

Today, Elaine Moss’s work in Signal is still accessible and relevant. Her voice is also a strong presence in the Aidan and Nancy Chambers archive, held by Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children’s Books. As well as editorial material relating to her many contributions to Signal and Thimble Press, it contains over 30 years of correspondence that offers unique insight into Moss’s work and the British children’s book scene from 1970 to the present. Anyone interested in knowing more about Moss and her work is fortunate as she donated her collection of 750 picturebooks to Seven Stories in 2003, and her fascinating collection of scrapbooks in 2009, which document her own contributions to multiple publications and offer a picture of how discourses around children’s books changed over the course of the 20th century . It is only fitting that Elaine Moss, who made such an important contribution to the promotion of British children’s books, is present in this nationally significant collection.

Banner image: Quentin Blake sketch drawn on being interviewed by Elaine Moss for Signal. Originally printed in Signal 16, Jan. 1975, p. 33.

CLUGG in Lockdown

Compiled by Lauren Aspery

Despite the current situation, there is still plenty of exciting research going on in the children’s literature department here at Newcastle University. While everyone is adjusting to new ways of working, a few CLUGG members have shared their tips and tricks for managing research during lockdown.  

Lauren Aspery – MLitt Student

Lauren is currently researching late twentieth-century British children’s poetry. She is especially fascinated by processes of canonisation and the Signal Poetry Award. Some of her favourite children’s writers include Michael Rosen, Patrice Lawrence and Julia Donaldson. When Lauren isn’t busy researching, she enjoys baking, organised fun and writing poetry.

A selection of Lauren’s favourite recipe books.

Lauren’s Lockdown Advice: 

“Keep a realistic daily to-do list. Never promise yourself a vague 1000 words that you’ll have to rush through or can’t achieve, but 200 words about something specific. As well as your academic goals, include things like watering the plants, taking a walk or organising your bookshelf. Ticking off those little victories can really improve your mood during these difficult times.”

Megan Ayres – MA Student

Megan is currently researching contemporary Young Adult literature with a focus on performance theory and ideas of adolescent ‘voice’. Some of her favourite YA and children’s books are those from Patrick Ness, Neil Gaiman, and anything slightly spooky. When Megan isn’t researching, she enjoys sewing, gardening, and trying to stop her dog Rosie laying in the vegetable patch. 

Megan’s Lockdown Advice:

Working from home can be unsettling if it’s a far cry from your usual working environment and, like me, you don’t have a desk. Set up a space with everything you need and keep your work within that space. This means that at the end of the workday, or during a break, you can move yourself away from any stress. I’ve set up my dining room table with a printer, the books I need, my notes and stationery, and, of course, a cup of tea. I also make sure to tidy it during lunch and at the end of the day. Even though it’s tempting to lie in bed and do some reading for work, try not to do this as it’s proven to disrupt sleep patterns. Keeping a specific, tidy area should help keep a firm boundary between work & life, even in these difficult circumstances.” 

Helen King – Doctoral Candidate

Helen is in her second year of a PhD project on the work and archive of Beverley Naidoo, with a focus on representations of displaced and activist children. In her free time she enjoys painting, cycling, climbing walls (although only in the metaphorical sense during lockdown), and bothering the cat.

Helen’s Lockdown Advice:

“Find what works for you and don’t let comparison creep in. I’ve found I write best first thing in the morning, and then again in the late afternoon, so I use the middle of the day for other things (reading/editing/snacking). The best way to be disciplined is to give your mind and body what they need  – I like to reward myself with something nice after a chunk of work to keep me motivated, with a walk, a phone conversation, a bath, etc.”

Stephanie Lyttle – PhD Student

Stephanie is a creative writing student who researches representations of bisexuality in 21st century YA fantasy. She is also writing a YA fantasy novel. Her current favourite children’s book is The Velveteen Rabbit.

Cavehill, Northern Ireland

Stephanie’s lockdown advice:

“In this creativity-sapping time of constant anxiety, writers may feel that they should exclusively funnel what creative energy they do have into their “serious” work. However, I’ve found that taking time out to work on other, low-stakes personal writing projects (in my case, poetry) actually helps the words flow more easily when I go back to my PhD novel. Let yourself write “for fun”, without judgement! It’s not a waste of time.

This advice can be broadened out for researchers in any field – take time to write a nice note to a friend, or a thank-you email, or a diary entry. Give yourself space to produce writing that doesn’t have to be perfect.”

Lucy Stone – Doctoral Candidate

Lucy is writing up her thesis, is writing up her thesis, a case study of the juvenilia children’s author-illustrators Judith Kerr (1923 – 2019) and Tomi Ungerer (1931 – 2019) [https://blogs.ncl.ac.uk/childrensliteratureinnewcastle/far-out-isnt-far-enough-remembering-tomi-ungerer-1931-2019/] made in exile in the Nazi era. When not at her desk, Lucy is taking (online) ballet classes, tending her sourdough starter, or baking cakes, should the tiger come to tea, although apparently he’s more after loo rolls these days…

Some of Lucy’s sourdough goodies (fennel seed crackers and a chocolate pear cake). It’s quite remarkable how a bit of flour and water (and a few other ingredients) can yield such tasty writing snacks.

Lucy’s Lockdown Advice: 

“Everyone works differently and needs to find a way of working that suits them. I’m finding it helpful to take one day at a time. I work the best I can each day, but even if I have a bad day, I stop at 5 pm or there about and take the evening off. It’s particularly important at the moment to maintain a balance and take care of yourself.” 

To weed or not to weed? Opening the Aidan and Nancy Chambers Archive

Dr Hazel Sheeky Bird

In the weird and worrying times that we are currently living in, it is good to be able to write about the positive things that are still taking place in the world of children’s literature. While locked down, I’ve been helping to put the finishing touches to three major areas of the Aidan and Nancy Chambers archive.

To give a bit of background: In 2016, Seven Stories was fortunate to acquire the entire archive of Aidan and Nancy Chambers. It is genuinely difficult to write an adequate summary of the immense contribution the Chambers have made to the whole field of children’s literature. (Anyone interested in finding out more about their work in general, and Turton and Chambers specifically, might like to look at my earlier blog on their work (https://blogs.ncl.ac.uk/vitalnorth/tag/turton-chambers/).

Being archivally minded, the Chambers amassed a colossal amount of material during professional careers that spanned over 50 years. This has proven to be exciting and daunting in equal measures, and meant that serious investment was needed to process the initial deposit and create a working catalogue. Fortunately, through a generous grant from the Archives Revealed scheme for an archivist-cataloguer, matched by funding from Newcastle University for a Research Associate, i.e. me, there have been two dedicated staff working on the archive for the last 18 months. Not only that, with management and input from Seven Stories’ Collection’s Manager, Kris McKie, and Senior Lecturer in Children’s Literature at Newcastle Uni, Dr Lucy Pearson, a significant amount of resources and expertise have been invested in the project.

Image courtesy of Thimble Press: http://www.thimblepress.co.uk/covers/index.htm

The Archives Revealed grant specified three distinct aspects of the overall archive to process in this first stage: Thimble Press, Signal: Approaches to Children’s Books (1970-2003), and Turton and Chambers. Aidan and Nancy Chambers set up publishing house Thimble Press in 1969, in the first instance to publish their own children’s literature journal, Signal. As editor, Nancy Chambers was responsible for publishing a wealth of articles on children’s books by contributors such as Elaine Moss, Peter Hollingdale, Peter Hunt, Philip Pullman, Margery Fisher and Eleanor Graham, to name only a few. Through Thimble Press, they also published seminal works of British children’s literature criticism such as Peter Hollingdale’s Ideology and the Children’s Book (1988) and Aidan Chambers’ own Tell Me: Children, Reading and Talk (1993). Many of these books are now instantly recognizable through the Chambers’ long collaboration with typographer, Michael Harvey. Harvey designed most Thimble Press covers and was responsible for the re-design of Signal in 1979, courtesy of Margaret Clark and John Ryder of the Bodley Head. Aidan Chambers set up Turton and Chambers (1989-1993) with bookseller David Turton to publish innovative works of children’s literature in translation.

Image courtesy of Thimble Press: http://www.thimblepress.co.uk/covers/index.htm

The Chambers archive is huge. I could find grandiose ways to describe it, but the huge does the job. Aidan and Nancy Chambers had done a great job of organizing their vast papers over the years and initially deposited 126 large boxes with Seven Stories. A further accrual of boxes arrived in January 2020, and the Chambers continue to work on organizing the remainder of their papers at their home. When it first arrived, the papers were stored in a variety of boxes that the Chambers had amassed over the years. (You can see a very small fraction of the original boxes in the image below.)

Author’s own image

Before any work on the papers could begin, Seven Stories’ conservator, Rosalind Bos, had to condition check the entire deposit. This is standard practice, but it was particularly important with the Chambers archive. Before coming to Seven Stories, the archive had moved around and was not always stored in ideal conditions. Mould was a particular worry: fortunately, only one box in the whole deposit was badly affected. It was the archivist cataloguer’s job to create the catalogue, but before he could do that, I had to weed the material.

Weeding is anathema to researchers, but necessary for archives and archivists. As a researcher, steeped in the assumption that everything in an archive is sacrosanct, it has been surprising that a big part of my job has been working out what should be kept and what could be set aside. The idea of weeding is disturbing. The Society of American Archivists offers us an alarming set of synonyms for the process: culling, purging, stripping. In practice, though, the process has been thoughtful, consistent and, most important for future researchers, useful. Today, the Signal archive is housed in organized and accessible archival boxes (you can see some of the archive below), ready for future researchers.

Author’s own image

Think about the material relating to Signal: Approaches to Children’s Books. Nancy Chambers edited 100 issues of the journal over 33 years. For the majority of that time she corresponded with contributors through the post (the cost and reliability of the postal system is a frequent subject in her letters); keying (in preparation for typesetting) and proofs were sent to contributors (who may or may not have made changes to any or all of these stages). Nancy Chambers duly filed them on their return. On top of these versions, the archive also contained many photocopies of finished articles, most of which bore no annotation whatsoever, numerous pasted-up versions (i.e. copies of finished articles that had been cut up and pasted onto A4 paper), plus large amounts of camera ready copy for all issues. Nestled, and sometimes hidden, amongst this material was over 30 years’ worth of correspondence with major figures from the children’s literary world: think Robert Westall, Grace Hogarth, Robert Leeson, John Rowe Townsend, Sheila Ray, Jan Mark, Margaret Meek and Raymond Briggs for starters. Added to this, was the material that actually demonstrates Nancy Chambers’ practices as editor, and which reveals her collaboration with Margaret Clark on Signal following Clark’s retirement from the Bodley Head. Without weeding, anyone wanting to look at this rich body of material would have needed to set aside a significant about of their research time and budget to wade through many hundreds of pages of duplication, none of which revealed anything about Nancy Chambers’ editorial practices or the children’s literary world during this time.

At the outset, it was clear that we needed to agree on a set of guiding principles for weeding. Like all archives, Seven Stories already has a clear weeding policy, and this was our starting point. We also had to consider the nature of Signal as a publication: i.e. a journal as opposed to a literary work. We decided that we would keep limited draft material for articles published in Signal as, unlike literary works, there was likely to be limited interest in the writing process. Key exceptions were drafts, keying or proofs that had substantial annotation by the author or Nancy Chambers. Substantially annotated drafts of articles now considered seminal works of children’s literary criticism were also kept. I compared all drafts against the published versions and all correspondence was retained.

There were some exceptions: for example, the entire production file for Signal 1 was kept intact, even though annotated drafts were only marked up with typographic errors. I also could not identify any single issue file that reflected all production processes, so a representative amount of production material was retained and catalogued across the issues. This included, for example, handmade dummy issues, a sample index, Michael Harvey’s preparatory artwork, John Ryder’s production material for his ‘Leaves from a Designer’s Notebook’ inserts, etc. In terms of space, it simply was not possible to retain all production material for all 100 issues of Signal. The production material that we retained, however, documents not only the various processes that Nancy Chambers used over the years, but also the hands-on nature of her work as editor.

It literally took me weeks to weed the Signal material as I considered every item for its research value. In making these decisions, I was extremely fortunate to be able to turn to Nancy Chambers for aid. Weeding the Signal archive involved the removal of a significant amount of material, and it was vitally important that the final archive preserve and document Nancy’s editorial and publishing practices. Working collaboratively with Nancy Chambers meant that I fully understood, and could preserve, her working practices in the archive.

Having spent the last few weeks before the lockdown actually doing some personal research on Signal, I know that we have created an archive that is comprehensive and accessible. It has been a pleasure to read Nancy Chambers words, to ‘hear’ her voice, and to see her hand everywhere in the archive. At the time of writing, the launch of the final catalogue has been slightly delayed due to the lockdown. However, I look forward to seeing the many ways that future researchers use this unique archive.

More than editorial: working in publishing

MA student Megan Ayres on her experiences in the children’s publishing industry.

It could just be me, but I feel like a career in publishing is synonymous with images of manuscripts & proof copies strewn artistically across desks, as a dedicated editor sifts and read their way through it to find the Next Big Thing that will catapult an otherwise unknown author into notoriety. Just think of the happy accident that sparked the cultural revolution that is Harry Potter. Romantic, I know, but these were images clouding my idea about how my career was going to go after I finished my undergraduate degree in 2016.

Publishing is actually a super competitive commercial business with commercial aims and attitudes. So, it’s not really a surprise that most of it is centred in London. Yet through research and sheer refusal to live there I landed a job in a publishing house in the Midlands. I moved away from my family ready to enter the book industry working in the production department of a, predominantly, children’s book publishing company, working to coordinate the manufacturing process of books.

Firstly, I’d like to stress the difference between trade and mass market literature, since I wasn’t myself aware of it when I started. Mass market companies cater to consumer demand – their main clientele will be retailers like supermarkets, places that can sell book products inexpensively. They may even have a contract with specific brands, designing and producing material on behalf of them, or taking existing designs and facilitating the production. So, the mass market publisher will work with the client in mind, kind of like a takeaway – the restaurant only produces the food that the customers order. It can be good and bad – more fast-paced but if the customer wants something culturally out of date (pink/ballerinas/fairies for girls, blue/superheroes/trucks for boys) you produce it.

The ties that trade publishing has to consumer demand is perhaps less simplistic and explicit, even though it’s still there masked under an ethos of independence and forward-thinking-ness. This is ‘traditional’ publishing. To get a sense of that, think of all the books Waterstones sells and the sense of prestige that comes with being ‘well read’. (What does that even mean anyway??)

I worked in the former environment helping produce mass market books, and I acted as a liaison and coordinator for the manufacturing of said books. But these weren’t simple books, they had bells & whistles: sound modules, stationary, puppets, stickers… massive books, tiny books, books that didn’t even look like books. It was all very adventurous, which I think is the glory of the mass market – you’re so tied to attracting customers that you’re constantly working to get that wow-factor. But it means you need the right people – ones who can source weird components, printers that can produce large quantities, and so on – all at a cheap price.

My role involved communicating with international suppliers to negotiate delays, quality issues, schedules, and the like. It really built my capacity to talk professionally, forge bonds with people on the other side of the world and be firm. It took a lot of self-organisation and problem-solving: risk assessing products for children comes with a whole health & safety side that you probably wouldn’t realise.

Publishing houses are multifaceted but working in production means you get to be the spider at the centre of the web. I worked directly with the editorial department to discuss design & technical issues; for me, resolving these issues was always the most gratifying. You could have a really tricky, horrible specification for production but when the book would come in (and we were always the first to see it!) getting the final product in your hands and being able to take it to the editorial team to show it off was always a real score.

I also worked with the sales team, which gave me a nice foundation of marketing & selling knowledge. It was often a slight battle: they had a tricky job with the customer on the other end of the line asking for quicker schedules & lower costs – yet better quality – which obviously wouldn’t always be possible on our side of things. But to be honest I always found it kind of fun – it would keep the day fresh and it was worth it for those moments when you could pull it out the bag for them.

Working in production means getting to be around and work with a lot of people, which I think is one of the most important skills you can have. I also got to work with the operations and shipping teams, because in order to get to shops they’ve got to sail for weeks on the sea first! That comes with its own set of requirements about quantities, pallets, and packing – all of it burned into my brain. I got to produce some things for really big brands and seeing them in shops was always a bit of a smug moment. It’s weird seeing something in the real world and knowing you had a hand in it, even a hand no-one really thinks that much about.

Ultimately, coming back to university for my Masters has been the right choice for me, no doubt, but I’m deeply appreciative of the experience I’ve had. It’s improved my outlook and way of thinking about work; I have more confidence in myself. It gave me the buzz I needed to choose to come back for my Masters and to focus specifically on children’s literature. I realised how integral the actual process of publication is in impacting the books that are available to children, especially how tied to trend and consumer demand they are. I always thought of publishing as very forward thinking, but there’s a lot more to it than that. This really sparked my academic interest and reignited that sense of intrigue, not just for publishing but for literature in general. Books have such a complicated and multifaceted role within the cultural space. More generally, being in employment full time improved my initiative and work ethic, which is important for postgraduate study!

For anyone trying to get into publishing, I would say to look outside the box a bit; look at the roles in production, sales, design, & operations. They each play to different strengths and can be really rewarding. Editorial is awesome, no denying, but there are loads of roles out there –  it’s brilliant for anyone who loves fast-paced and innovative environments.

Come to our Postgraduate Open Day!

We invite any prospective children’s literature students to visit us next week and hear from current students and staff. All are welcome to the public lecture from Professor Karen Sands-O’Connor. See the poster for information.

Before (and after) children’s literature: cheap print and young readers across Europe

Elisa Marazzi

It is widely accepted that what we now call children’s books were born in the 18th century, when both the Enlightenment and commercial reasons made some farsighted men and women start publishing books that were explicitly addressed to children. But children existed also before the 18thcentury, so what did they read?

1: The Primer of Claude de France. France, probably Loire Valley, Romorantin, c. 1505. Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Museum, MS 159, folio 3/r, available online https://www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/illuminated/manuscript/discover/the-primer-of-claude-of-france

Some of them were so lucky that their parents or their preceptors commissioned, wrote, and even assembled books that were to be used exclusively by them. Let us think to the illuminated manuscript assembled for Claude of France in the early 16th century [picture 1], or to Fénelon’s Adventures of Telemachus, written in the 17th century for his pupil Duc de Bourgogne, second in line to the throne of France. Not to mention the nursery library assembled by Jane Johnson for her children in the early 18th century.

Many more children must have encountered the printed materials that circulated widely among peasants, working classes, servants, etc. since the invention of the printing press. In spite of the fact that literacy rates differed depending on urbanism, religion, emigration, and many other factors, it has been discovered that a great part of illiterate or semi-literate people not only had many opportunities to enjoy narrations by just listening to them, but were also keen on buying cheaply printed products even if they were not able to work them out completely. How about their children?

2: 1610 edition of Den sack der consten […] [The Bag of Arts]. Brussels, 1610, available on Google Books. The prologue of the 1528 edition, the earliest known, mentions that the book contains “some silly things for the youngsters and some other things” – translation by Andrea Van Leerdam, whom I thank for letting me know about this book.

Examples of cheap print for children are attested before the 18th century. Book of secrets, containing recipes and medical remedies, were a successful genre already in the age of manuscripts; so successful that a Dutch publisher issued a book of secrets explicitly addressed to children as early as 1528. [picture 2]

A quite renowned collection of ballads preserved at the British Library and named after their collector, the Duke of Roxeburghe, contains at least two 17th century moral ballads that might have foreseen children as a privileged audience. [See banner image.]

4: The Tyrant’s Views Frustrate: To Which Are Added, I Wonder’d (sic) What He Meant. The Shepherd’s Holiday. Drive Me Not To Despair. There’s My Thumb I’ll Ne’er Beguile Thee. The Highland Lassie. You’re Fitter for a Lover’s Arms. Cynthia’s Perplexity. Glasgow, J. & M. Robertson, 1808, Newcastle University Library, shelfmark Chapbooks 821.7 AIN (64)

Moreover, children were likely to share cheap print with the rest of the society. Chapbooks printed in Glasgow by J and M. Robertson in the first two decades of the 19th century carry an interesting woodcut on their title page: it represents two adults and a child singing ballads together. This must have been an advertising strategy (title pages functioned as covers in chapbooks), and it is also evidence that cheap print of any kind would have reached juvenile audiences by the means of orality. [picture 4]

Printed broadsheets that narrated stories through pictures with a small amount of text as captions were probably appreciated by semi-literates, and for the same reason they must have encountered the attention of children. Sometimes they were not even conceived of as reading materials, but they contained a really limited amount of text, as in the Venetian fogli da ventola: single sheets mounted on a stick in order to be used as fans. They were not addressed to children, but there is evidence that young people were enjoying them as well, thus encountering written words even if they did not attend schools. [picture 5]

5: Foglio da ventola printed with humorous faces changing upside-down when mounted as a fan. Printed in Bologna, Luigi Guidotti, [late 18th century]. Milan, Raccolta delle stampe Achille Bertarelli, shelfmark Popolari Profane p. 15g-10, available online http://graficheincomune.comune.milano.it/GraficheInComune/immagine/Popolari+Profane+p.+15g-10
The juvenile use of such fans is attested in a Venetian painting by a follower of Pietro Longhi, La bottega del caffe’, oil on canvas, 18th century, detail. Work available online https://progettocultura.intesasanpaolo.com/patrimonio-artistico/opere/la-bottega-del-caffe/

More didactic and educational printed materials must also be mentioned, such as ABCs, primers, catechisms, that represented, for instance, about the 18% of French chapbooks, the so-called Bibliothèque bleue. But they weren’t confined to schools, since it was not only young people that needed to practice on them. Moreover, it was not understood that children in schools had to read didactic books: in the 16th century the Venetian schoolmasters declared that children practiced reading on chivalric romances in cheap editions instead of using primers. And in the 18th century they still complained about that. Also in France, in the 17th century, bishops banned from schools fairy tales, romances and prophane books that were used to teach them to read.

Social history research on 18th century France has shown that young peasants and thieves carried sorts of cheap print on their bodies when inspected by the police. Even in 18th and 19thcenturies, when books for children were increasingly issued, most families would not afford them. Cheap print for the general public was still an option; moreover, some clever publishers started to issue massively cheap print for children.

6: A Whetstone for Dull Wits; Or, A New Collection of Riddles, for the Entertainment of Youth. : Of Merry Books This Is the Chief, It Is a Purging Pill, To Carry of All Heavy Grief, And Make You Laugh Your Fill. Glasgow, R. Hutchison, 1804. Newcastle University Library, shelfmark Chapbooks 821.04 JOE (5)

This British books of wits, printed probably in the early 19th century, has a larger number of woodcuts than the standard layout of a chapbook, and in fact it is specifically addressed to children. [picture 6] Chapbooks for children issued by Kendraw of York are among the most renowned examples [picture 7], but also in other countries cheap print for children became a proper publishing genre in the 19th century. Let us focus on Spain, where pliegos de aleluya, broadsheets containing images and captions, were used both as games (lottery) and as ancestors of comics. Traditionally addressed to the general audience, in the 19th century they were increasingly dedicated to children and proposed to them traditional narrations such as popular romances and fairy tales. [picture 8]

7: The cries of York for the amusement of good children. York, J. Kendraw, [ca. 1826]. Digitised by Washington University Libraries, https://digitalcollections.lib.washington.edu/digital/collection/childrens/id/1160
8: Historia del nuevo D. Quijote. 59. Barcelona, A. Bosch, [187-?]. Digitised by Centro de Estudios de Castilla La Mancha https://previa.uclm.es/_ceclm/CentenarioQuijote/tboquijote/tbos/NuevoDQ/index.htm

Similar products were printed all over Europe also before that the so called Imagerie Populaire was founded in Épinal, France, by Mr Pellerin. It was a printing shop specialising in lithography that took over the business of printed images selling them across Europe. Through some agreement Pellerin’s broadsheets were also translated into English and printed in the United States. [picture 9]

9: Two Broadsheets printed by Pellerin in Épinal, [late 19th century]. The one on the left was published in the USA by the Humoristic Publishing Company, Kansas City. Princeton University Library, Special Collections – Cotsen Children’s Library, shelfmark Print Case 149986

In addition, new printing techniques made illustrations and colours cheaper, so that broadsheets could even become cheap toys. Pellerin even printed a Chinese Shadow Theatre: sheets were intended to be pasted on cardboard and then cut in order to build the shadows of animals and people that would act on the stage of a cardboard theatre. [picture 10]

10: Ombres Chinoises (6) Les Aventures de Polichinelle, Épinal, Pellerin [late 19th century]. Princeton University Library, Special Collections – Cotsen Children’s Library, shelfmark French Popular Print 149986 (Box 1)

Research on all this is still at an early stage, but it is evident that cheap print represented a large part of the publishing market, especially in 18th and 19th century, and that it was often enjoyed by children. This means that we have only a partial understanding of what children were reading in the past. Cheap and ephemeral printed products are very likely to tell us more about that.

Elisa Marazzi is a Marie Skłodowska Curie Research Associate at the School of English, Literature, Language and Linguistics, Newcastle University.