Miriam Janechek is a doctoral candidate in the English Department and will defend her dissertation in May 2019. Under the direction of Dr. Lori Branch, her dissertation examines the complicated relationship between the rise of classic children's literature in the 19th-century and the pressures of secularization as they relate to the rationalizing power of science and mathematics in the period. Her project examines four of the most celebrated books for children from the period, The Water Babies, Alice in Wonderland, The Secret Garden, and Peter and Wendy. Her work investigates the relationships between Victorian conceptions of childhood, the rise of children's literature, and the anxieties surrounding religious belief in the period. Ultimately, her project argues that these authors posit belief as an intrinsic human faculty found literally unadulterated in childhood and their children's literature offers it as a counter to the certainty that the secular, rational view of human existence advances.
Children's Literature and Belief: A 19th-Century Focus