Ordinary Magic: D.W. Winnicott and the E. Nesbit Tradition in Children’s Literature

By: Sarah Pincus '14

Advising Faculty: Julie Rivkin

In this thesis, I look closely at four particular children’s books as representative of a genre within children’s literature, one that I call “ordinary magic.” Whereas most children’s literature can be categorized either as realistic fiction or as fantasy, I examine a group of books that resists such classification. Drawing on the psychoanalyst D.W. Winnicott’s theory of transitional phenomena, I discuss the ways in which the novels within this genre navigate the boundaries between fantasy and realism, exploring related oppositions such as home and away, childhood and adulthood, reading and real life, and rebellion and compliance. I argue that a frank and playful exploration of these boundaries creates an environment in which deep and authentic enlivenment and enchantment can be felt.

Read this thesis in its entirety at Digital Commons.

Related Fields: English