Intertextual relationships between children’s and adult literature:
A Literary Studies course design for ongoing EFL teachers

Janice Bland, Saturday 10.00-10.30

Ongoing teachers of English as a foreign language begin higher education in Germany with an extremely narrow knowledge of the wide field of literatures in English. For the most part language learners are not introduced to full-length literary texts in the EFL class until they reach their final school years, at which point they read, and are examined on, one or two major and complex works. Thus students begin their tertiary studies without the background reading in literary texts in English, including children’s literature, upon which self-confidence and pleasure as a reader usually depends. At university level, the time that can be spent on wide reading is extremely limited, which is of major concern, as how can teachers who don’t learn to read in English for pleasure themselves, motivate their future students to read?

This paper aims to illustrate an Introduction to Literary Studies course design, for ongoing teachers, which combines a study of children’s and adult literature by examining their intertextual relationships. It will be argued that it is most effective, in the limited time available, to allow ongoing teachers to discover the depth and intricacy of first-rate children’s literature by studying its relationship to literary works for adults. In this way ongoing teachers can have the chance to study selected works by the greatest writers such as Charles Dickens and Shakespeare, while simultaneously learning to understand the complexity of the kind of multi-layered children’s books that they would later, due to their relative linguistic simplicity, be able to employ in the EFL class at school. The texts referred to in this paper will be Susan Cooper’s time-slip novel, King of Shadows, which throws light on A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Shakespearian theatre, a graphic novel version of Great Expectations and Shaun Tan’s The Arrival as a preparation for film studies.

Janice Bland is a teacher educator at Hildesheim University. Her main research areas are the educational and linguistic goals of early EFL teaching, children’s and young adult literature, creative writing in teacher education, children’s drama and drama processes in literary interpretation, picture books and graphic novels for visual and literary literacy.