Long seen by writers as a vital political force of the nation, children's literature has been an important means t only of mythologising a certain racialised past but also, because of its intended audience, of promoting a specific racialised future. Stories about slavery for children have served as primers for racial socialisation. This first comprehensive study of slavery in children's literature, Slavery in American Children's Literature, 1790-2010 , also historicises the ways generations of authors have drawn upon antebellum literature in their own re-creations of slavery. It examines well-kwn, canical works alongside others that have ostensibly disappeared from contemporary cultural kwledge but have netheless both affected and reflected the American social consciousness in the creation of racialised images. Beginning with abolitionist and proslavery views in antebellum children's literature, Conlly examines how successive generations reshaped the genres of the slave narrative, abolitionist texts, and plantation vels to reflect the changing contexts of racial politics in America. From Reconstruction and the end of the nineteenth century, to the early decades of the twentieth century, to the civil rights era, and into the twenty-first century, these antebellum genres have continued to find new life in children's literature--in, among other forms, neoplantation vels, biographies, pseudoabolitionist adventures, and neo-slave narratives. As a literary history of how antebellum racial images have been re-created or revised for new generations, Slavery in American Children's Literature ultimately offers a record of the racial mythmaking of the United States from the nation's beginning to the present day.
Paula T. Connolly , associate professor of English at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, USA, is the author of Winnie-the-Pooh and the House at Pooh Corner: Recovering Arcadia.