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The lost paradise? Images of Childhood in 20th Century's Norwegian Children's Literature.

Awarded: NOK 0.13 mill.

The project deals with the change of childhood in 20th century's Norway and with the images of childhood reflected in Norwegian children's literature of this time. Do the literary pictures correspond with "reality" or do they differ from it? Which images of childhood can be found in Norwegian children's literature? A comparison between the fictitious worlds in children's literature and the "real" world seems to be of particular relevance, because the images in the worlds of fiction form our sight of child hood. Above all it is the children's books that develop our idea of how childhood has to look like. As grown-ups we still carry those images in mind. In children's literature research it has often been declared that children's literature isn't up-to-date and preserves values of a time gone, because the authors use their remembrances of their own childhood and therefore don't show a modern picture of childhood. Does the reader always get images of childhood that date back at least one generation, or does children's literature nevertheless reflect the changes in childhood? Is there children's literature that is ahead of its time? I'm proceeding on the hypothesis that there is Norwegian children's literature that is modern in its description of childhood a nd that there are authors who write about changes before they have taken place. I will analyze how these changes in childhood are presented in ca. 35 Norwegian children's books from the 20th century. For that purpose I will compare the literary images of childhood with the real development in Norway. To describe how children really grew up in the 20th century, I will use secondary literature from different relevant fields, e.g. historical works as well as sociological studies To get a more complete image of historical childhood, I will use other sources in addition (e.g. statistics, newspaper articles, photography).

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