Legacies of the Romantic Child: Teaching Post-Romantic Constructions of Childhood in Contemporary British Fiction

This article discusses the theme and methodology of the course “(Post-)Romantic Childhoods in British Literature” as previously taught at Bielefeld University in Germany. The course covered constructions of childhood in British literature from the Romantic period and their appropriations in Victorian and contemporary fiction by Dickens, McEwan, Lessing, and Boyne. Reflecting upon the teaching goals and outcomes, we draw on two fields of research into contemporary literature: constructivist childhood studies and the critical study of Romantic legacies. After an introduction to our terminology, the cultural context, and its implications for classroom scenarios, we outline the syllabus in detail, adding handouts, activities, and tasks as illustrative examples.