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Title: Toying with the book : children's literature, novelty formats, and the material book, 1810-1914
Author: Field, Hannah C.
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis examines the book in the nineteenth century by way of an unusual corpus: movable and novelty books for children, drawn from the Opie Collection of Children’s Literature at the Bodleian Library. It argues that these items, which have been either ignored or actively dismissed by scholars of children’s literature, are of two-fold significance for the history of the book: they encourage a sense of the book as a constitutively (rather than an incidentally) material object, and they demand an understanding of reading as not just a mental activity, but a physical one as well. Each of the first five chapters of the thesis centres on a different format. The opening chapter discusses the Regency-era paper doll books produced by Samuel and Joseph Fuller, exposing the tension between form and content in these works. The second chapter looks at Victorian panorama books for children, showing how the panorama format affects space, time, and the structure of any text accompanying the image. The third chapter reads the pop-up book’s key tension—the tension between surface and depth in the pursuit of an illusion of three dimensions—in terms of flat, theatrical, and stereoscopic picture-making, three other nineteenth-century pictorial modes in which an illusion of three-dimensionality is important. The fourth chapter traces self-reflexive accounts of printing, publishing, and the material book in dissolving-view books produced by the German publisher and printer Ernest Nister at the end of the nineteenth century. The fifth chapter positions the late nineteenth-century mechanical books designed and illustrated by Lothar Meggendorfer in terms of two material analogies, the puppet and the mechanical toy or automaton. The final chapter synthesizes evidence as to how the movable book could and should be read from across formats, foregrounding in particular the ways in which the movable embodies reading.
Supervisor: Evangelista, Stefano-Maria; Purkiss, Diane Sponsor: Clarendon Fund
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: History of the book ; English & Old English language ; History of childhood ; children's literature ; book design ; illustration ; toy and movable books