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Children’s Literature at the Crossroads of Genre, Nation and Empire: Alice, Pinocchio, and adventure stories

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National associations and mutual stereotyping have paved the way to the reception of the Alice and Pinocchio books; in this talk I shall compare the national and historical contexts in which Carroll and Collodi operated, their personal backgrounds and their attitudes to literacy and education – a contrastive analysis of these texts, characterized by the same generic hybridity, affords new insights into the respective cultures that produced them and about the books themselves. In the second part of the talk I will contrast the characteristics and ideology of the adventure story genre in Italy and Britain in the last decades of the nineteenth century, a period in which both countries were thinking of themselves as nations in relation to the exotic spaces of the Empire. From Alice and Pinocchio, and their points of departure, Oxford and Florence, the journey of compared children’s literature will take the audience to the colonial outposts where Italians and the British were defining their national identity in their relationship with different populations and foreign spaces/ languages.

Laura Tosi is Full Professor of English Literature at the University Ca’ Foscari in Venice. Her primary research fields are Elizabethan and Jacobean drama, and children’s literature.

This talk is part of the Centre for Research in Children's Literature at Cambridge series.

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