Sarah Iversen, a DPhil candidate at LMH, will explore the role of nineteenth-century children’s dictionaries in the gendered education of children. Children’s dictionaries are widely regarded strictly as mid-twentieth-century phenomena. Pre-twentieth-century lexicography has also been traditionally regarded as an exclusively male pursuit. Contrary to these assumptions there were, in fact, many dictionaries specifically written for children in the nineteenth century, several of which were compiled by women. This paper will demonstrate that both dictionaries compiled by women and men aimed, not simply to impart the meaning of words, but also to teach ‘little boys and girls’ how to behave and prepare them for their future roles as men and women. These gender ideologies, encoded in dictionary definitions, example sentences, and pictorial illustrations, often varied according to the background of individual lexicographers, as Iversen will show.
Week 5 (February 14th): ‘The Riddles of Harry Potter: Secret Passages and Interpretive Quests’. Professor Shira Wolosky, Drue Heinz Visiting Professor at the Rothermere Institute and Professor of English and American Literature at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Professor Wolosky will discuss her recent book on the Harry Potter series, published by Palgrave Macmillan, in which she argues that Harry Potter’s wild popularity ultimately relates to its literary depth and power: its symbolic meanings, psychological experience, moral reflection, word revelation. Harry Potter offers a literary world of psychological and political allegories, moral fables and paradigms, wordplay, and sudden plots. These together form a web of riddles and secrets—hidden and then discovered meanings—where objects, creatures, events, and words themselves are all filled with significances that have to be deciphered, and whose meanings unfold through constant interpretation and reinterpretation, as earlier books take on new senses in light of later ones. Harry Potter as literary experience thus emerges as one of interpretive challenge and adventure through unfolding patterns of psychological, historical, and moral meanings.
Week 7 (February 28th): ‘Children’s Books in the Bodleian Library’. Clive Hurst, Head of Rare Books, Bodleian Library
In the late 1980s, following a massive fundraising appeal, the Bodleian Library acquired Peter and Iona Opie’s personal collection of around 20,000 children’s books (including many early books, as well as archival materials like Peter Opie’s accession diaries, which document the genesis of the collection). The preservation of the Opie Collection in the Bodleian, along with other significant children’s book holdings in the Douce Collection among others, makes Oxford the home of some of the world’s most significant resources for the study of children’s books and culture. The head of the Bodleian’s Rare Books division, Clive Hurst, who has written on the Opie Collection and curated exhibitions of children’s books from the Bodleian, will discuss the important children’s book resources at the Library and introduce the group to some of the most extraordinary examples across collections.