University of Cambridge > > Centre for Research in Children's Literature at Cambridge > The Language of Julia Donaldson: Rhetoric, style and cognition

The Language of Julia Donaldson: Rhetoric, style and cognition

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Julia Donaldson has been a highly successful children’s author over the past twenty-five years. She has published more than 100 books and many of her works have been translated from English into other languages. In 2011 she received an MBE for services to literature and she was the Children’s Laureate from 2011-2013. She has received honorary degrees from Bristol University in 2011 and from Glasgow University in 2012. In addition to being a writer of children’s books, Donaldson is also a playwright and a performer. She has worked closely over the years on many of her stories with children’s book illustrator Axel Scheffler. The number of books they have sold together runs into the millions. A pertinent question therefore that this study will address is just what it is that young listeners (and perhaps readers) are drawn to in the stories of Julia Donaldson? Is it just the plotlines, the characters and the illustrations or might something else also play an important role, for example, the style, the rhythm and rhyme, the narrative and the rhetorical arrangement in general. Moreover, might the embodied cognition that underpins these literary and linguistic phenomena, triggered by both text and images – also tell us something about what might draw young listeners (and perhaps readers) to the works of Julia Donaldson? This question is what this study sets out to investigate by means of rhetorical, stylistic and cognitive poetic analysis.

Michael Burke is Professor of Rhetoric at Utrecht University where he is currently also the Dean of the Honour College. He also teaches modules in classical rhetoric, argumentation analysis, literary stylistics and cognitive poetics at University College Roosevelt in Middelburg, a liberal arts and sciences honours college of Utrecht University. His publications include Literary Reading

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

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