From Tongue to Text: A New Reading of Children's Poetry

From Tongue to Text: A New Reading of Children's Poetry

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The connection between childhood and poetry runs deep. And yet, poetry written for children has been neglected by criticism and resists prevailing theories of children's literature. Drawing on Walter Ong's theory of orality and on Iain McGilChrist's work on brain function, this book develops a new theoretical framework for the study of children's poetry. From Tongue to Text argues that the poem is a multimodal form that exists in the borderlands between the world of experience and the world of language and between orality and literacy - places that children themselves inhabit. Engaging with a wide range of poetry from nursery rhymes and Christina Rossetti to Michael Rosen and Carol Ann Duffy, Debbie Pullinger demonstrates how these 'tactful' works are shaped by the dynamics of orality and textuality.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 280 pages
  • 156 x 234 x 25.4mm | 564g
  • Bloomsbury Academic
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 11 b/w illustrations
  • 1474222323
  • 9781474222327

Table of contents

Children's Poetry: the problem child
Mind and Body
Part One: Tact
The Hidden Child
Not Narrative
In our right minds?
The infancy of language
The language of infancy
The crossing
The container
Tactful language
Part Two: Tongue
Ear and voice
Orality and vocality
And another thing
Making lists
Again and again
Here and now
All join in!
Live and in performance
Part Three: Text
Hand and eye
From performance to page
From A to Z
The poetics of the page
The distances of text
The child and the text

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Review quote

In a brief closing section, Pullinger returns to the idea of 'tactful reading' to argue that children's poetry is best understood, not through arm's-length theories, but through methodologies that are grounded in 'commitment, immersion, abandonment, trust' ... This is an ambitious conclusion to an ambitious study. Its success reflects the author's broad knowledge of contemporary British poetry as well as her willingness to draw from multiple academic perspectives. While the study of children's literature is flourishing, it remains divided among the disciplines of education, literary criticism, history, and psychology. From Tongue to Text is itself an act of 'integrated reading' that crosses disciplinary lines to make a strong case for the value and complexity of children's poetry. * The Lion and the Unicorn * This book is a rather thrilling call to take poetry for children seriously - that is, not earnestly, but with an appetite to see its fullest implications. Unafraid to engage with theory, the argument is anything but cerebral. Rather, it leads the mind back to the body, to its play and humour and its tactile wrestling with experience. Almost incidentally, it opens up the possibility that this approach illuminates all poetry, for any age, and that children's poetry might be not a marginal art but the key. * Philip Gross, Professor of Creative Writing, Course leader, MPhil in Writing, University of South * This is the first extensive theoretical exploration of that most intractable area of literary studies, poetry for children, and it should be essential reading for everyone in the field of children's literature... it draws on a remarkable range of literary and linguistic theory to produce, a new way of reading and of understanding the genre: 'the idea of a fully engaged sort of criticism.' From Tongue to Text is that rare thing: a book which marks an important step in critical thinking, and which is readable and accessible, and which above all is original * Peter Hunt, Professor Emeritus in Children's Literature, Cardiff University, UK. * In describing the "fractal-like patterns" of Sing-Song, Debbie Pullinger suddenly makes Christina Rossetti's classic volume come newly alive. By foregrounding reverberating cyclical repetitions of time, life and the universe, her account makes the sequence of crystalline variations metaphorically visible. Throughout From Tongue to Text, Pullinger provides many more such refreshing rereadings of verse we thought we knew, while bravely attempting to answer the impossible question of defining children's poetry. By deftly engaging connections between orality and literacy, between child and adult between sound and printed text, Pullinger provides a welcome addition to the body of work emerging on theorizing children's poetry. For people who have From the Garden to the Street (1997) by Morag Styles and Poetry's Playground (2007) by Joseph Thomas on their shelves, make a space for Debbie Pullinger's From Tongue to Text to sit next to them * Professor Lissa Paul, Department of Undergraduate and Graduate Studies in Education, Brock University, Canada *
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About Debbie Pullinger

Debbie Pullinger is Research Associate in the Faculty of Education at the University of Cambridge, UK.
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