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Freud in Oz

At the Intersections of Psychoanalysis and Children’s Literature

2011
Author:

Kenneth B. Kidd

Freud in Oz

Shows how the acceptance of psychoanalysis owes a notable debt to the rise of “kid lit”

Children’s literature has spent decades on the psychiatrist’s couch, submitting to psychoanalysis by scores of scholars and popular writers. Freud in Oz suggests that psychoanalysts owe a significant and largely unacknowledged debt to books ostensibly written for children. Kenneth B. Kidd argues that children’s literature and psychoanalysis have influenced and interacted with each other since Freud published his first case studies.

This canny and original study is far more searching, wide-ranging, and fun than its modest title suggests. Kenneth B. Kidd not only analyzes but somehow evokes for us the way the child and stories told about her drift through our dreams, literature, and culture, giving form to our finest aspirations and darkest nightmares. An essential, generous, deeply-informed book.

James Kincaid, University of Southern California

Children’s literature has spent decades on the psychiatrist’s couch, submitting to psychoanalysis by scores of scholars and popular writers alike. Freud in Oz turns the tables, suggesting that psychoanalysts owe a significant and largely unacknowledged debt to books ostensibly written for children. In fact, Kenneth B. Kidd argues, children’s literature and psychoanalysis have influenced and interacted with each other since Freud published his first case studies.

In Freud in Oz, Kidd shows how psychoanalysis developed in part through its engagement with children’s literature, which it used to articulate and dramatize its themes and methods, turning first to folklore and fairy tales, then to materials from psychoanalysis of children, and thence to children’s literary texts, especially such classic fantasies as Peter Pan and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. He traces how children’s literature, and critical response to it, aided the popularization of psychoanalytic theory. With increasing acceptance of psychoanalysis came two new genres of children’s literature—known today as picture books and young adult novels—that were frequently fashioned as psychological in their forms and functions.

Freud in Oz offers a history of reigning theories in the study of children’s literature and psychoanalysis, providing fresh insights on a diversity of topics, including the view that Maurice Sendak and Bruno Bettelheim can be thought of as rivals, that Sendak’s makeover of monstrosity helped lead to the likes of the Muppets, and that “Poohology” is its own kind of literary criticism—serving up Winnie the Pooh as the poster bear for theorists of widely varying stripes.

Freud in Oz

Kenneth B. Kidd is associate professor of English at the University of Florida. He is author of Making American Boys: Boyology and the Feral Tale (Minnesota, 2004) and coeditor (with Sidney I. Dobin) of Wild Things: Children’s Culture and Ecocriticism and (with Michelle Ann Abate) of Over the Rainbow: Queer Children’s and Young Adult Literature.

Freud in Oz

This canny and original study is far more searching, wide-ranging, and fun than its modest title suggests. Kenneth B. Kidd not only analyzes but somehow evokes for us the way the child and stories told about her drift through our dreams, literature, and culture, giving form to our finest aspirations and darkest nightmares. An essential, generous, deeply-informed book.

James Kincaid, University of Southern California

Delights and instructs in equal measure. Kidd provides a playfully wide-ranging and richly insightful cultural history of how psychoanalysis has used children’s literature to articulate and dramatise its themes and methods, even as children’s literature has repeatedly appropriated, influenced, and promoted the dissemination of psychoanalysis.

Critical Quarterly

Kidd’s book reminds me of nothing so much as Fred Astaire dancing with a hat rack: a “modest and cheerful” triumph of intelligence, skill, grace, confidence, and sheer joy.

Children’s Literature Association Quarterly

The value of Kenneth B. Kidd’s book Freud in Oz: At the Intersections
of Psychoanalysis and Children’s Literature
likewise emerges from the way in
which Kidd weaves and reweaves his own particulars into this comprehensive
review of the historical and contemporary relationship between
children’s literature and psychoanalysis. Kidd, an associate professor of
English at the University of Florida, interlaces into his account an almost
encyclopedic knowledge of 19th- and 20th-century American and European
children’s literature. He also addresses psychoanalytic studies of
childhood, social constructivism, gender and queer contributions, the
picture book genre, as well as adolescent literature and literature dealing
with atrocities. The result of Kidd’s zigzagging among his many interests
is a scholarly work that is nevertheless engaging and easy to follow.

Psychoanalytic Quarterly

In a word, Kidd’s Freud in Oz is fantastic. Impressive. Useful. An achievement.

Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts

Freud in Oz

Contents

Introduction: Reopening the Case of Peter Pan

1. Kids, Fairy Tales, and the Uses of Enchantment
2. Child Analysis, Play, and the Golden Age of Pooh
3. Three Case Histories: Alice, Peter Pan, and Oz
4. Maurice Sendak and Picturebook Psychology
5. “A Case History of Us All”: The Adolescent Novel before and after Salinger
6. T Is for Trauma: The Children’s Literature of Atrocity


Acknowledgments
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Freud in Oz

UMP blog - Goodbye, Maurice Sendak. And thank you.

 

But Sendak wasn't only gay; he was queer, by all measures of that term. He was eccentric, irascible, difficult. And very funny. Anyone who's watched the Stephen Colbert interviews knows this. "He is not, as children's book writers are often supposed, an everyman's grandpapa," writes Patricia Cohen. "His hatreds are fierce and grand, as if produced by Cecil B. DeMille." Sendak declared himself not overly fond of children or of people in general. By his own report he preferred the company of dogs. If Sendak took a while to come out, his queerness was long on display in interviews, speeches, and certainly in his work.

 

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