I started and then stopped a Masters degree in Children's Literature a couple of years ago.
I had high hopes, I was studying by distance learning which I had done for my English Lit degree with little problem for 6 years; 42 essays and 6 exams later I managed a creditable 2:1. I'd almost started to forget I was a nurse in real life and I'd mistakenly thought this course would be no different.
The first module couldn't have been worse, it was obvious it had to be literary theory and the first critic to disentangle, Stanley Fish and his interpretive communities.It was only a matter of time before the impenetrable (to me) Gyatri Chakravorty Spivak appeared on the scene followed by the Russian lad,Vygotsky and I was sunk and bored and also very alone.
I wouldn't want a classroom, I love the solitary and self-taught nature of study and research now I'm older and I can cope without face to face tutorials, but The Open University had provided me with the most incredible online support network of fellow students and a virtual common room in which to chat.This form of discussion was great for me, I was working full time and the house was populated with teenagers so I could dip in at odd (very odd) hours and ten of us became good friends.
Conversely, the University I was doing the MA with provided me with a very far flung distance learning tutor, a reading list of books that were mostly out of print and very expensive to buy, some excruciatingly poor photocopied course materials and very little else and all at 3 times the cost.
I threw in the towel, after scraping the first module and quickly decided the fur edged hood was just an unnecessary vanity.
However I haven't lost my interest in the subject and the one area I was hoping to explore for the dissertation had I ever made it that far, was a combination of both my interests, literature and paediatrics with a particular focus on childcare and childhood illness in literature.
To some extent Lois Keith got there first with Take Up Thy Bed and Walk : Death, Disability and Cure in Classic Fiction for Girls. Sounds like a bit of a morbid fascination but it's only when you think about it that you realise how many of those classics contain just that. Jane Eyre, Little Women, What Katy Did, Heidi, The Secret Garden and there must be plenty more.
Mention of Dorita Fairlie Bruce's The Girl's of St Bride's and the crippled Winifred has piqued my interest again.
I'm going to be weaving some children's literature as well as more 19th century novels into my pleasurable reading over the next few months and I know I won't be able to forget this project as I read and of course, I no longer have to be limited by children's literature so perhaps I'll just bless all of you with my thoughts instead. Sorry.
And if you come across any good examples in your reading please let me know.