Let me begin by commending the incredible range of scholarship that is currently being undertaken in children’s literature studies. It is making strides as never before, perhaps especially in work on earlier, formerly neglected periods (eighteenth-century studies have been particularly productive, e.g. O’Malley, 2003, 2012; Grenby, 2011; Horne, 2011), but also in work that ensures that children’s literature is seen in the wider context of children’s studies (in cinema, toys, new media, pastimes, subcultures, ethnographic studies, etc.). But while celebrating this, I also have a sense of something missing. Namely, that we sometimes seem to be trying too hard, that we have become too ponderous in our deliberations about children’s books (we murder to dissect), such that we lose the actual excitement of reading. To borrow from Peter Brooks (himself borrowing from Jacques Derrida), I would suggest that there is too much ‘mechanics’ and not enough ‘energetics’ in much of our analysis (Brooks, 1984: 47). 1 Thus our increasingly sophisticated vocabulary for discussing key issues around texts for children is sometimes in danger of itself becoming a straightjacket. In Foucauldian terms, that which escapes our grids of classifi cation is often neglected. But this is not in any way to suggest that we need a more fi nely graded mesh; in fact, the opposite. I am arguing for more openness, more edginess. Neither is this a call for a return to some illusory realm labelled ‘post-theory’.
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